Employment & Labor Law: Milwaukee & Chicago Employment Lawyers
When provided with the right work environment, employees are more productive, employers are more profitable, and issues between employees and employers decrease significantly. Employment law, when correctly implemented and carried out, seeks to strike the delicate balance between the needs of employees and employers. The following non-exhaustive list represents a general overview of current employment laws governing the work environment. Understand the basics of how our Milwaukee & Chicago employment lawyers can help you.
Learn more about different areas of employment law including employment discrimination, age and disability discrimination laws, FMLA, severance agreements, sexual harassment, wage and overtime violations, and laws related to whistleblowers.
An employee who suffers a discriminatory adverse action (i.e., termination, demotion, denied a promotion and failure to hire) has the option to bring a lawsuit against their employer.
Wisconsin has enacted the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act to protect employees from discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, arrest record, color, conviction record, creed, disability, marital status, race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, and use or nonuse of lawful products.
Illinois has enacted the Illinois Human Rights Act to protect employees from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual harassment, national origin, ancestry, military status, age (40 and over), order of protection status, disability (physical and mental), marital status, sexual orientation (including gender-related identity), unfavorable military discharge, arrest record (or criminal history record ordered expunged, sealed or impounded), citizenship status (born or naturalized U.S. citizen, U.S. national or documented immigrant), language (any language use not related to job duties), pregnancy (including childbirth or related medical or common conditions), retaliation (for opposing unlawful discrimination), and coercion/aiding and abetting (helping or forcing a person to commit unlawful discrimination). To be actionable under the Illinois Human Rights Act, the employer must employ at least 15 or more employees in the state of Illinois unless: (i) the charge alleges sexual harassment, pregnancy, retaliation, or physical or mental disability discrimination (only one employee is required in this case); (ii) the employer is a public contractor (e.g., someone who does business with the state of Illinois or is a unit of local government) or (iii) the employer is a unit of state government.
Federal statutes carry similar protections, including: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion); Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) (prohibits discrimination on the basis of age – over 40 years of age); Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (prohibits discrimination on the basis of mental or physical disability). The protections of Title VII, ADEA and ADA apply only to employers with 15 or more employees.
Want to learn more about workplace discrimination? Visit our blog What classifies as workplace discrimination?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), as well as state law (Wisconsin Fair Employment Act; Illinois Human Rights Act), prohibits employers from discriminating against or harassing employees (and applicants) because the employee is 40 years of age or older.
For employers, the ADEA is not the only issue to worry about with regard to employee relations. For instance, the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act mandates additional requirements on employers, especially when negotiating a severance package or settlement agreement.
McDonald & Kloth, LLC, has successfully represented both employers and employees regarding discrimination claims. If you have experienced discrimination in the workplace or have received a complaint of discrimination, contact us immediately.
Learn more about the various Age Discrimination Laws today.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as state law (Wisconsin Fair Employment Act; Illinois Human Rights Act) prohibits employers from discriminating against or harassing employees (and applicants) based upon a real or perceived disability. These laws also require employers to provide a disabled employee with a reasonable accommodation that is necessary for the disabled employee to perform his or her job so long as the accommodation does not create an “undue hardship” for the employer.
What constitutes a reasonable accommodation varies from situation to situation and is analyzed on a case-by-case basis. It is important that the disabled employee seeks qualified legal counsel to negotiate the accommodation with the employer. Such accommodations may include job transfer or reassignment, altered work schedule, modified office equipment or technology, accessible office space, and intermittent leaves of absence. This is a non-exhaustive list.
Whether you are an employee or an employer, the experienced Milwaukee employment lawyers at McDonald & Kloth, LLC, can help you navigate and successfully resolve disability-related employment issues.
Visit our Disability Discrimination page to learn more.
Read about one of our cases: City of Racine workers files lawsuit alleging race & disability discrimination
Family and Medical Leave Act
In order to be entitled to leave under either the FMLA or WFMLA, the employer must employ at least 50 or more employees during the relevant period of time, typically one year from an employee’s anniversary date. In addition, an employee is eligible if they have worked either 1,000 hours for WFMLA or 1,250 hours for FMLA within a 12-month period. If an employee is eligible, they may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period under the FMLA. Under the WFMLA, an employee may take up to 2 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period, which runs concurrently with any federal FMLA leave. A man or a woman may use this time to care for a newborn child or a parent, for example. If you have had trouble getting permission for this time off, or if you have suffered retaliation for taking time off, contact us.
There are many nuances to FMLA and WFMLA regulations. If your employer utilizes a no-fault attendance policy, they are prohibited from assessing you any points for FMLA related absences. It is important, however, that an employee complies with any employer call-in procedure in order to utilize the protections afforded by the FMLA and WFMLA. In addition, an employer can identify particular individuals as key employees if they meet certain criteria. This has a practical effect of negating most FMLA protections.
As an employer, it is critical that you have an FMLA attorney that can provide guidance when an employee requires FMLA or WFMLA.
To learn more about the Family Medical Leave Act, visit our FMLA page.
Getting terminated from a job is never easy. Your employer may want you to sign a severance agreement at the conclusion of your employment. Severance agreements can help secure pay and benefits for employees after they leave but also may include restrictive clauses, like a noncompete clause. It is important to read severance agreements carefully and to consult an attorney to ensure the severance agreement is fair to you. The Milwaukee employment lawyers at McDonald & Kloth, LLC can help you with your severance agreement.
State and federal law make it unlawful to harass an employee (or applicant for employment) based upon his/her sex. This includes unwelcome sexual advances, comments, innuendos, requests for sexual favors, touching and other conduct of a sexual nature. This also includes harassment aimed specifically at the person’s gender, as in the case where one employee chooses to treat another employee poorly simply because of that person’s gender.
Employers must take all complaints seriously, investigate them thoroughly, and take strict and prompt action as required. These steps are paramount to protecting your employees and ensuring a safe work environment. Moreover, following these steps significantly reduces your exposure to potential liability.
Employees that are experiencing sexual harassment should report the sexual harassment through the proper channels as set forth by the employer. This may include a complaint reporting system or other steps which should be laid out by employers in their policies and procedures. Sexual harassment can happen to all people and the harasser could be a peer or supervisor. Employment laws are set to protect employees that bring forth a good faith claim from retaliation.
McDonald & Kloth, LLC has successfully represented both employers and employees in sexual harassment claims. Learn more about how we can help with sexual harassment in the workplace.
Unpaid Wages & Overtime
It is important to get compensated for the work you’ve done. Employers must pay their workers the minimum wage as set by their state. Employers also must pay their non-exempt employees premium pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in any given workweek. Premium pay is defined as one and one-half times the rate of their regular pay. Our Milwaukee & Chicago employment lawyers can help you by reviewing your case and gathering evidence to help you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
Learn more about how can help you with your unpaid wages and overtime claims.
It is important to note that employees may be protected from retaliation in the workplace when they report certain unlawful acts by the company. Federal and state laws prohibit employers from issuing retaliatory actions against employees because the employee has reported certain wrongdoing in the workplace. Whistleblowers are those individuals that “blow the whistle” on employers who violate the law.
The United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), is the federal agency responsible for enforcing whistleblower or anti-retaliation statutes. A non-exhaustive list of these statutes is as follows:
Whistleblower & Anti-Retaliatory Statutes
The federal False Claims Act helps stop corruption against the government by stopping it and rewarding whistleblowers for the information they provide. Qui tam cases assist whistleblowers in helping stop many kinds of fraud against the government.
Plaintiffs, or realtors, involved in Qui tam lawsuits are protected under law from retaliation. They may also be awarded from 15 to 30 percent of the funds that are recovered by the government. It is important to note that realtors need to be represented by legal counsel.
If you are looking to learn more about the federal False Claims Act and Qui tam cases, please visit our Qui Tam/Federal False Claims page. The Milwaukee employment lawyers at McDonald & Kloth, LLC have successfully represented qui tam clients both individually and with government intervention. We understand that success of these sort of cases depends on a thorough investigation. If you or anyone you know has information about a fraud being perpetrated against the government, you should immediately contact McDonald & Kloth, LLC, for a free initial consultation.
The Illinois Whistleblower Act, 740 ILCS 174, protects employees who disclose illegal conduct to government officials or refuse to participate in unlawful activities. An injured employee may seek a “make whole” remedy from the employer, including reinstatement with seniority; back pay with interest; and compensation for “any damages sustained as a result of the violation, including litigation costs, expert witness fees and reasonable attorney fees.”
Want to learn more about the Illinois Whistleblower Act? Visit our blog post, Understand the basics of the Illinois Whistleblower Act.
The Illinois False Claims Act, 740 ILCS 175, protects every citizen who “blows the whistle” on corruption (i.e., unlawful conduct) conducted by government officials and employees. A successful whistleblower may receive up to 30% of the amount recovered upon the conclusion of a successful whistleblower suit.
It is critical that you contact an employment attorney experienced in handling whistleblower cases prior to taking formal action. The attorneys at McDonald & Kloth, LLC, have handled countless whistleblower cases in a number of forums, and – regardless of whether you are an employer or an employee – will gladly assist you with your whistleblower matter.
Retaliation involves an employer taking adverse employment action against an employee when that employee has engaged in a protected activity. These adverse actions may include termination, demotion, reduction of pay, etc. “Protected activity” refers to activities that employees take part in that are protected under employment laws. These may include things such as filing a complaint of discrimination or harassment, filing a charge with the U.S. EEOC, or whistleblowing on their employer.
If you believe you have been the victim of retaliation in the workplace, contact the Milwaukee employment lawyers at McDonald & Kloth, LLC. Learn more about how we can help with workplace retaliation. If you are looking to learn more about Illinois retaliatory discharge & whistleblower laws, visit our retaliatory discharge page.
Contact Our Experienced Milwaukee & Chicago Employment Lawyers Today
McDonald & Kloth, LLC is experienced in many areas that fall within employment law. Learn how our trusted Milwaukee & Chicago employment lawyers can help you with your legal issues today. Contact our office in Menomonee Falls at 262-252-9122 or fill out our contact form.