Category Archives: Resources for WI Workers

Statistics, WI Equal Rights Division Discrimination Claims

I recently received statistical information from the agency that handles Wisconsin-law employment discrimination complaints, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Equal Rights Division (ERD).

The numbers reveal difficult odds, but not impossible odds, for employee-complainants who have filed discrimination complaints at ERD.  I should note that each case is unique, and if you are a worker with a potential or actual discrimination complaint, you should not assume your case is bad (or good) based on the general numbers in this article.  For an assessment of your odds, you should talk to an experienced employee rights attorney– and no, it doesn’t have to be me!  If you want to review some general numbers, read on.

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Filed under Employee Tip - Problems at Job, Resources for WI Workers

Take Justice Back: A New Website Regarding Rights of Individuals Harmed By Corporations

Today, the American Association for Justice, a lawyers’ group, launched a new website called Take Justice Back.  The website seeks to inform everyday Americans about the civil justice system, and why they should care about protecting that system, and protecting the rights of individuals harmed by corporations.

The American Association for Justice describes the new website as follows:

Take Justice Back will:• EDUCATE people on how their rights are being threatened;

• MOTIVATE Americans by sharing real stories of people denied justice;

• ENGAGE consumers through social media such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter; and

• EMPOWER activism by creating a portal where people can share information, send letters to members of Congress, sign petitions, and link through to their own blogs

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Filed under Philosophy - Employee Rights, Political, Progressive, Resources for WI Workers

WI Supreme Court Upholds Decision in Favor of Employees Fired By Employers Looking to Avoid Benefit Payments

This Wisconsin State Bar article describes a recent WI Supreme Court case, US Bank, the outcome of which I think is very helpful for diverse employee benefits situations.  The WI SC was split (the even # was due to Justice Annette Ziegler not participating), and the appellate decision in favor of the employee thus stands.

The upheld appellate holding: “an at will employee does not forfeit benefits [in this case, a vested sales-related bonus per a bonus plan] that have accrued during his or her employment even though the agreement governing those benefits conditions their receipt on the employee’s continued employment if the employer fires the employee solely to prevent the employee from getting the accrued benefits.”

The appellate court (full decision here) relatedly found:

While it is true, as U.S. Bank argues, that in the at-will-employee context there is no “duty to terminate in good faith,” Brockmeyer v. Dun & Bradstreet, 113 Wis. 2d 561, 564, 569, 335 N.W.2d 834, 836, 838 (1983) (at-will employee) (emphasis added), the requirement that parties act in “good faith” inheres in every contract and, therefore, an employer must comply in good faith with its “contractual obligations,” Hale v. Stoughton Hosp. Ass’n, Inc., 126 Wis. 2d 267, 274, 376 N.W.2d 89, 93 (Ct. App. 1985) (“Brockmeyer does not relieve an employer of contractual obligations it has undertaken.”).

 

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Filed under Employee Tip - Considering a Legal Action, Employee Tip - Problems at Job, Resources for WI Workers

Article for Consumers Regarding Car Safety

Buying a car?   Driving one?  Then check this article out for safety tips.

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Filed under Employee Info/Tips, Resources for WI Workers

Article “Understanding Conflict Dynamics” By J. Kim Wright

This is an interesting article about conflict resolution by J. Kim Wright, posted on the American Bar Association website.

The article is geared toward lawyers.  But its advice applies well for anyone involved in any type of conflict, including those of you involved in employment disputes.

The article describes five conflict-handling- personality traits: (1) the conflict avoider; (2) the accommodating style; (3) the competing style; (4) the compromising style; and (5) the collaborating style.

Each trait is discussed, as well as its pros and cons, and good and bad situations where each trait should be considered.

One described trait jumped out at me: the competing style, a type of communication I constantly see MISUSED in the employment context.  As the article puts it:

The competing style is assertive and uncooperative—a competing individual pursues his or her own concerns at the other person’s expense. This is a power-oriented mode, in which one uses whatever power seems appropriate to win one’s own position: one’s ability to argue, one’s rank, economic sanctions. Competing might mean “standing up for your rights,” defending a position that you believe is correct, or simply trying to win.

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Filed under Employee Info/Tips - Pre-Litigation - Problems At Job, Employee Tip - Problems at Job, Employment Law Resources, Philosophy - Employee Rights, Resources for WI Workers

WI Anti-Bullying Bill, Part II: What Could it Mean for Workforces and Employers if Enacted?

Wisconsin’s anti-bullying bill, if enacted, would prohibit employers’ “abusive conduct” that cause employees “tangible harm.”

I wrote a post here that summarizes the bill.

This post (Part II) speculates what effects the bill could have, in real-life, if enacted.  (If you don’t want my opinion, stop here! :)).

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Filed under Employee Rights & Employment Law, Legislation, Resources for WI Workers

Workplace Anti-Bullying Bill Considered By Wisconsin Legislature, Part I

State Capital, Madison Wisconsin
Image by Rustic Roads via Flickr

Wisconsin legislators are considering enactment of a bill, 2009 Assembly Bill 894, that prohibits workplace bullying by employers.

The bill seeks to prohibit abusive work environments in Wisconsin, and to allow a worker subjected to such an environment to bring a civil legal claim.

Importantly, a civil claim would be filed in a Wisconsin county court, as opposed to federal court or an administrative agency like the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division or EEOC (i.e. agencies that handle discrimination complaints).

This post summarizes the bill, its legal requirements, its potential benefits for WI employees, and potential liabilities for employers.

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Filed under Legislation, Political, Resources for WI Workers

Know of Good Resources for Laid Off Workers (Esp. WI)? Please Pass Them On…

I am on the lookout for helpful resources for employees who have been laid off, particularly resources for laid off workers in my state of Wisconsin.

If anyone knows of helpful resources in the areas below, I’d be very grateful if you emailed me at mbrown@dvglawpartner.com with a description of the resource(s), and their contact information. Ultimately, I’d like to post a list on this blog and hopefully provide a centralized list of resources and information that provides assistance in many areas, above and beyond the employment law information in this blog.

I’m familiar with many fine organizations and resources already- if you know that I already know you and your organization, please know you’re already on my list- I’m just in info-collecting mode right now, and you’ll be posted!

These are the types of WI worker issues (beyond employment law) for which I’d like to learn of resources/organizations:

Grants or financial assistance (other than unemployment), governmental or private, that are available to workers in WI or nationwide who lost jobs/have low income.

– Free or low-cost advice about health insurance options for workers, especially laid off workers in WI.

– Free or low-cost advice about Wisconsin unemployment benefits/proceedings (I know some fine attorneys across WI who provide unemployment representation, but like me they are in private practice and must charge for their services; I am looking for all non-profit legal-aid-type organizations in WI that have attorneys available for free unemployment representation from beginning to end).

– Free or low-cost advice about mortgage or housing problems, especially resources available for individuals with these problems in WI or nationwide.

– Free or low-cost advice about job-searching or vocational training for workers, especially laid off workers in WI.

– Free or low-cost advice on consumer or credit issues (repossession of car, etc.), particularly for individuals in WI.

– Free or low-cost financial planning or debt management advice, particularly for individuals in WI.

Grants or financial assistance that are available to workers with disabilities in WI or nationwide.

– Free or low-cost advice about social security disability benefits.

– Free or low-cost advice about short term and long term disability benefits (I also know many good WI attorneys who work with these benefits and have free consults and reasonable rates; again here I’m looking for any free or low-cost resources for legal representation).

– Free or low-cost advice about Wisconsin workers compensation law (I know some fine workers comp attorneys across WI who provide free consults and who I refer to, although all are in private practice; I was wondering if anyone knew of a non-profit organization that had workers comp attorneys available for free representation from beginning to end).

– Free or low-cost advice for WI workers who have had difficulty finding employment due to their arrest or conviction records (I have represented several such workers, as have many good WI attorneys I know; again here I’m looking for any free or low-cost resources for legal representation, or for vocational assistance as well).

Again, please send any resources and their information/contact information to me at mbrown@dvglawpartner.com.  Also, I am sure that in the list above I left out several important issues- please email me with any additional issues as well.  Thank you!

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