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Milwaukee Wisconsin Legal Blog

Does HR really address workplace discrimination?

Workers often perceive human resource departments as safe places to report workplace problems, such as sexual harassment. However, those feelings might be misplaced. HR departments often prioritize protecting employers over employees by preventing or policing investigations regarding allegations of sexual harassment and other forms of workplace discrimination. 

Since sexual harassment is a clearly defined form of workplace discrimination, employers in Wisconsin can be held responsible for any damages their female workers suffer. For many employers, HR departments are the first lines of defense against these accusations. While these departments may not be particularly effective at resolving issues of workplace harassment, in the past they have been able to limit the number of victims who feel as if they can take legal action.

EEOC investigating fewer workplace discrimination claims

Filing a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is an important step for people who have been discriminated against at work. Victims trust the EEOC to thoroughly investigate claims of workplace discrimination, but this is not always the case. Some Wisconsin workers might have already had to deal with their cases being closed without any type of investigation.

The EEOC categorizes claims as either low or high priority. Starting in 2008, the EEOC doubled the number of complaints that it categorized as low priority. Many of these claims would have once been categorized as a higher priority and as such would have been investigated as needed, but the low priority designation is a much different story. The EEOC rarely performs probes or attempts at mediation for claims fall into the lowest-priority track.

Can your employer request specific documents for your I-9?

When you start a new job, there is a good chance your employer will ask you to complete an I-9 form. After all, employers with at least four employees have an affirmative obligation to verify the identity and work eligibility of all new workers. They may not, however, use the I-9 process to discriminate against you

The I-9 employment eligibility verification form has three sections. The first section requires you to provide some basic information about yourself. You also must inform your employer of whether you are a citizen, legal permanent resident or an individual with another type of work authorization. The second section of the I-9 is for your employer to complete. To properly complete that part, your employer must examine documentation that proves both your identity and work eligibility. 

Fiat Chrysler hit with whistleblowing retaliation suit

Being caught between helping an employer and doing what is right can be an extremely precarious position. When a worker in Wisconsin decides to come forward about misconduct or even illegal workplace behavior, they have to put a lot on the line. This is why there are supposed to be measures in place that protect those who engage in whistleblowing, but those protections sometimes fall short.

The head of U.S. sales for Fiat Chrysler recently filed a lawsuit against his employer. Reid Bigland claims that his employer retaliated against him after he cooperated with the Securities and Exchange Commission while the agency investigated the company's sales-reporting practices. According to his lawsuit, Fiat Chrysler withheld approximately 90% of what should have been his pay when they found out about his cooperating with the investigation.

Is your boss trying to force you to quit?

Are you getting the sense that your employer does not want you around anymore? Your boss or manager may be trying to get you to quit. He or she may be even taking extreme measures to make your job intolerable. 

How can you tell if your boss is trying to force you to quit, and what can you do about it? Here are a few signs and tips. 

Female McDonald's workers describe workplace discrimination

Employees in Wisconsin and across the rest of the country should be able to go to work without worrying about unwanted sexual advances or harassment. This type of workplace discrimination is sadly still a widespread problem. When companies do not handle these issues, it is sometimes up to the workers to take matters into their own hands.

A group of 25 female McDonald's workers recently filed sexual harassment complaints against the fast food restaurant. The complaints were filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Most of these complaints are new, which means that the EEOC will have to investigate the claims. However, some were follow-up complaints  from 2018, which means that they will proceed to court.

Workplace discrimination often aimed at older workers

Growing older is a luxury not afforded to everyone. But while there may be many benefits to celebrating more birthdays, such as greater life experience and social opportunities, there are also drawbacks. According to some people, workplace discrimination against older workers is preventing them from finding and maintaining gainful employment.

A 63-year-old man who lives in a state outside of Wisconsin recently spoke out about his experience. He was laid off from his job in Aug. 2012 and quickly began searching for a new job. Despite being extremely qualified, he was rejected again and again. The reasons for those rejections? He says it was all because of his age.

Are you satisfied with the employment contract you received?

It is exciting to be the chosen candidate for a new job, and the next step is reviewing your employment contract. Clear, concise language is very important in the drafting of an employment contract. As a potential new hire, you have rights to protect.

You want to be sure that you understand everything the employer has included in this document and are satisfied as to the description, requirements and benefits concerning your position. Here are five elements that should be present in the contract your new employer wants you to sign.

Small business law: Software company alleges contract violation

Contracts are essential for protecting small businesses, customers, employees and many others. Whether for employment purposes or for detailing business transactions, contracts should protect everyone involved. Unfortunately, contracts are sometimes called into question. This aspect of small business law can be extremely frustrating.

An out-of-state software company claims that the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds -- ETF -- violated a $27 million contract between the two parties. The software company had been hired to overhaul a system that the ETF uses to track retirement benefits. However, ETF allegedly repeatedly asked for the company to provide services not covered by the contract. The ETF reportedly also had so many people assigned to the project that they could never quite commit to a decision regarding design.

Retaliation and workplace discrimination are still common

No matter what field or industry you are employed in, you should be able to report harassment, discrimination and employer wrongdoing without fear of retaliation. Unfortunately, this form of workplace discrimination still happens frequently in Wisconsin. Here are a few things you should know about retaliation, its causes and the common forms it takes.

Like many other people, you may associate retaliation with high-profile whistleblowing cases. You might not even realize that you could be the victim of retaliation for doing what you think is the right thing. In fact, some of the most common causes of workplace retaliation include:

  • Reporting sexual harassment or discrimination
  • Requesting accommodation for a disability
  • Filing a workers' compensation claim
  • Opposing a hostile workplace
  • Reporting an OSHA or safety violation
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