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Milwaukee Wisconsin Legal Blog

Fast food company must pay thousands for employment law violation

A group of out-of-state fast food workers are set to receive thousands of dollars of unpaid wages. The decision comes after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor determined that the company underpaid its workers. While this particular issue took place in a different state, these types of employment law violations are sadly not uncommon in Wisconsin. 

SM Choi Inc. runs four different fast food establishments, although it is not clear how many people the company employs. However, at multiple locations it paid both cooks and cashiers flat salaries rather than the hourly wage that these types of workers typically receive. This ultimately resulted in workers being underpaid for their work, as the salaries did not reflect their hours worked. 

Does small business law deal with contracts?

Entrepreneurs embarking on their first startup experience might expect to spend more time on the creative aspect of their businesses and less on the nitty-gritty legal side of things. However, any time that a person starts a business in Wisconsin he or she will need to deal important issues pertaining to small business law. This includes writing comprehensive and enforceable contracts. 

Contracts may feel unnecessary during the early days of a business, but they are essential for protecting everyone involved in an agreement. Not only is remembering exactly what each party agreed to difficult, but some people may purposely try to circumvent their obligations. A contract removes any uncertainty from an arrangement, making it easy to demonstrate that another party did not honor his or her word. This can apply to anyone from a supplier to an employee. 

Wisconsin woman claims workplace discrimination from Walmart

A Wisconsin woman's experience was apparently the springboard for a recent lawsuit filed against Walmart. Filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the suit claims that the company engaged in workplace discrimination against its pregnant employees. The company has denied the claims, citing its accommodation policies. 

In 2015, the woman discovered she was pregnant and requested that she be transferred to light duty. Walmart has a light duty program specifically to accommodate workers with lifting restrictions, but her request was denied. Rather than lose her job entirely, the woman switched from full-time to part-time work so that she could spend fewer hours per week lifting heavy objects. However, the switch meant she earned less and lost her access to benefits. 

3 subtle forms of workplace retaliation

When you think of retaliation in the workplace, you may assume it is an obvious and immediate action. For example, you may think of an employee reporting an unsafe working condition and then receiving threats of termination. Another example is an employee reporting sexual harassment and getting subsequently fired. 

While these types of retaliatory actions certainly occur, sometimes they are more subtle. Bosses may partake in more insidious acts that may fly under the radar of whistleblower laws and employee protections. Here are a few subdued ways you may experience retaliation: 

Are targeted ads a form of workplace discrimination?

Gender discrimination in the workplace is a real and ongoing issue, but what about the women who never have the chance to break into certain careers in the first place? Although workplace discrimination in regard to advertising open positions was once thought to be a thing of the past, new technology is causing a comeback. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, American Civil Liberties Union and other agencies are currently pursuing lawsuits against Facebook and other companies for allowing targeted job advertisements that exclude large segments of the population in Wisconsin. 

Facebook allows companies to target their ads based on very specific criteria, including age and gender. This includes advertisements for job openings. It allegedly allows companies to limit postings for job openings in historically male-dominated fields to only younger male users. Job seekers who were women and older males were never even given the opportunity to learn about these positions

How is a potential employer handling your criminal record?

Let us say you are applying for a position with a manufacturing company in Milwaukee. You are middle-aged and have a felony on your record because of three DUI convictions.

Could the potential employer decide against hiring you because of your age and criminal record?

Whistleblowing led to heavy fines for false claims

Blowing the whistle on illegal or unsavory business practices at a person's place of work is a risky endeavor. An individual might lose his or her job and face other serious forms of retaliation that can make it difficult to maintain meaningful employment in the future. However, whistleblowing in Wisconsin is not all downsides with no benefits. Not only does the False Claims Act give whistleblowers a small portion of any fines leveraged against companies, but victims of retaliation can also take legal action. 

The Centers Plan for Healthy Living LLC -- an-out-of-state provider of skilled nurses -- was involved in a scheme to receive compensation for services it never rendered. A whistleblower apparently alerted authorities to issues of ongoing fraud by The Centers Plan, and is set to receive a small portion of the company's fines. It is not clear in what capacity the whistleblower was affiliated with the company. 

Victim awarded millions in workplace discrimination suit

Reporting discrimination in the workplace can be a risky decision. For some, the company may take action to end discriminatory behavior and matters might improve. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many victims of workplace discrimination in Wisconsin experience increased hostility and retaliation after submitting complaints. 

An out-of-state jury recently awarded a woman $8.5 million after she accused her employer of discrimination and retaliation. The 47-year-old woman complained of a hostile working environment, citing unfair treatment against herself and other workers based on their race. The company launched an investigation into the matter, and soon afterwards things got worse. When the investigation was over, her supervisor piled more duties into her job description without providing any additional pay. She was soon transferred to a more distant office and not provided with any extra compensation for her commuting expenses. 

Employment law: Disney set to increase worker wages

What constitutes a living wage can be a complicated matter. A certain minimum wage might be sufficient for workers in one part of Wisconsin, while workers in other areas might struggle when earning a similar pay. A group of out-of-state workers recently negotiated a higher minimum wage for low-level employees, and those earning more than the minimum will see their pay go up as well. The outcome from these types of employment law matters can sometimes affect workers in other states, especially if they are employed in the same industry. 

Walt Disney World is well-known for its endless hours of fun, but behind the attractions and princess visits there have been some serious complaints regarding pay. Currently, low-wage employees start out at $10 an hour. However, based on that area's cost of living, this is not enough for most workers to survive. 

Microaggressions reveal discrimination and bias in the workplace

Not every instance of bias or discrimination at work involves outright harassment. In many cases, employees may not be able to point to a major event or series of events that meet the definition of discrimination.

However, microaggressions - slights that reveal conscious or unconscious bias against a marginalized group in the workplace - can destroy employees' productivity and their careers.

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