What’s New in Employment Law?

Dean R. Dietrich and Davis Runde

By: Attorneys Dean R. Dietrich and Davis Runde

Employment law can quickly change based on current trends. As such, it is worth looking at what employment law developments have occurred in other states, even if such developments have not yet made it to Wisconsin.  While it is uncertain whether Wisconsin will adopt legislation effectuating these developments, it is still important to consider trends from other states so that employers are competitive and attractive to new employees.

Many states have passed legislation prohibiting discrimination against an individual based upon hair type and style.  While Wisconsin has no law specific to this, hair type and style is often associated with one’s ethnicity, race, and/or religion, all three of which are protected classes under Wisconsin law. We do not have cases in Wisconsin that rely solely upon hair style as a basis for a claim of discrimination; however, employers are sensitive to avoiding decisions based upon that type of criteria.  The fact that other states have passed legislation providing protection against discrimination on that basis is a warning for Wisconsin employers to be careful when deciding what candidates to hire and the basis for making decisions about a particular candidate.

Many states have also adopted paid family/medical leave legislation, which provides a paid benefit to employees for time off due to medical conditions or family-related medical conditions and other needs for time off (“PTO”).  This is not the law in Wisconsin, although many employers offer PTO plans that provide some level of paid benefit to employees.  These PTO benefits are typically based upon length of service and limited to a certain amount based upon position with the company.  Paid family medical leave under state statutes would provide a benefit to all employees even if the employer does not provide that type of benefit as part of its benefits package.  Employers should be cognizant of this requirement in other states as they work to remain competitive.

Moving forward, we may find more and more employers are providing paid family/medical leave in addition to paid time off (which is often viewed as vacation).  Remaining competitive in this market is a very important aspect of the employee retention process.

The above legislation has not been adopted in Wisconsin, but employers may consider implementing these types of benefits or protections to remain attractive to new hires and stay ahead of possible updates to Wisconsin statute or case law.  The world of hiring and employee retention is of high priority to employers, and they need to consider all options when developing their benefits package and working to attract new, and qualified, employees.

If you have any questions on this article or other employment matters, please do not hesitate to contact Dean or Davis at 715-839-7786.