Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s determination that real estate broker Mark McNally was entitled to a commission pursuant to a listing contract between the parties. Capital Cartage, Inc. argued before the Supreme Court that McNally was not entitled to a commission because the offer to purchase McNally procured contained substantial variances from the seller’s terms as set forth in the listing contract. The Supreme Court held (1) Kleven v. Cities Service Oil Co., 126 N.W.2d 64, is the law with regard to determining whether a substantial variance exists between a listing contract and an offer to purchase; (2) applying this standard, in the context of the sale of a business with real estate where the sale did not go through, McNally did not procure an offer to purchase “at the price and on substantially the terms set forth” in the listing contract; and (3) therefore, McNally was not entitled to a commission. View "McNally v. Capital Cartage, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s declaration that the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) exceeded its authority under Wis. Stat. ch. 111 in promulgating Wis. Admin. Code chs. ERC 70 and 80 and the circuit court’s order that WERC hold certification elections for the Wisconsin Association of State Prosecutors (WASP) and the Service Employees International Union, Local 150 (SEIU). The Supreme Court reinstated WERC’s orders dismissing the Unions’ petitions for election as untimely, holding (1) WERC did not exceed its authority because it had express authority under Wis. Stat. ch. 111 to promulgate rules that require a demonstration of interest from labor organizations interested in representing collective bargaining units; and (2) WERC may decertify a current representative labor organization on September 15 or at the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, whichever occurs later, where there are no timely petitions for election filed because the statute requires WERC to conduct elections on or before December 1. View "Wisconsin Ass’n of State Prosecutors v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission" on Justia Law

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Although Wis. Stat. 103.465 explicitly refers to a covenant not to compete, the plain meaning of the statute is not limited to covenant in which an employee agrees not to compete with a former employer. Plaintiff imposed a non-solicitation of employees provision as part of Defendant’s employment agreement. The provision prohibited Defendant from soliciting, inducing, or encouraging any employee of Plaintiff to terminate his or her employment or to accept employment with a competitor, supplier or customer of Plaintiff. Plaintiff claimed that Defendant engaged in actions that violated the non-solicitation of employees provision. The circuit court concluded that the provision was reasonable and enforceable under section 103.465. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant’s non-solicitation of employees provision was a restraint of trade governed by section 103.465 and was unenforceable under the statute because it did not meet the statutory requirement that the restriction be “reasonably necessary for the protection of the employer.” View "Manitowoc Co. v. Lanning" on Justia Law

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An employee is not eligible for benefits under Wis. Stat. 102.42(1m) if the disability-causing treatment was directed at treating something other than the employee’s compensable injury. Plaintiff suffered from a soft-tissue strain, which was work-related, and a degenerate disc disease, which was not work-related. In the belief that it was necessary to treat her soft-tissue strain, Plaintiff underwent surgery, which, in actuality, was treating the unrelated degenerative disc disease. The procedure left Plaintiff with a permanent partial disability. Plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim, which the * Commission denied. The circuit court affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that, based on its interpretation of section 102.42(1m), an employee need only have a good faith belief that the treatment was required. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and affirmed the Commission’s order dismissing Plaintiff’s claim for disability benefits, holding that Plaintiff’s claim must be allowed because her surgery treated her pre-existing condition, not her compensable injury. View "Flug v. Labor & Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law

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The circuit court affirmed a determination by the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) that Appellant was ineligible for unemployment benefits because she was terminated for substantial fault. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant was entitled to unemployment compensation because her actions did not fit within the definition of substantial fault as set forth in Wis. Stat. 103.04(5g)(a) where she was terminated for committing “one or more inadvertent errors” during the course of her employment. Remanded to LIRC to determine the amount of unemployment benefits Appellant was owed. View "Operton v. Labor & Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law

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Since 1938, the City of Milwaukee has required its city employees to comply with a residency requirement. The residency requirement is set forth in section 5-02 of the City’s charter. In 2013, the Legislature enacted Wis. Stat. 66.0502, which bans residency requirements. Despite enactment of the statute, the City continued to enforce its residency requirement, claiming it had the authority to do so under the state Constitution’s home rule amendment. The Milwaukee Police Association sought relief and damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that the City can no longer enforce its residency requirement because section 66.0502 trumps section 5-02 of the City’s charter. With respect to Association’s section 1983 claim, the court of appeals affirmed the circuit court’s decision not to award relief or damages, concluding that because section 66.0502 did not involve a matter of statewide concern and did not affect all local government units uniformly, it did not trump the City’s ordinance. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) section 66.0502 precludes the City from enforcing its residency requirement; and (2) the Police Association is not entitled to relief or damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983 because the Association failed to meet the requirements necessary to prevail on a section 1983 claim. View "Milwaukee Police Ass’n v. City of Milwaukee" on Justia Law

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United Foods & Commercial Workers Union, Local 1473 filed a class action against Hormel Foods Corporation alleging that Hormel violated Wisconsin wage and hour laws by failing to pay employees for time spent putting on and taking off company-required clothing and equipment before and after shifts at one of Hormel’s canning plants. The circuit court ruled in favor of the Union, ordered Hormel to compensate its employees for time spent “donning” and “doffing” the required clothing and equipment, and awarded the class monetary damages of $195,087. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Hormel is required to compensate its employees for the 5.7 minutes per day spent donning and doffing the clothing and equipment at the beginning and end of the day; and (2) the required donning and doffing of clothing and equipment at the beginning and end of the day does not fall within the doctrine of de minimis non curat lex, as the wages involved are not a “trifle” either for the employees or Hormel. View "United Food & Commercial Workers Union v. Hormel Foods Corp." on Justia Law

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The Equal Rights Division of the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) concluded that Joell Schigur had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the Department of Justice (DOJ) took unlawful retaliatory action against her because she lawfully disclosed, or the DOJ believed that she lawfully disclosed, information under Wis. Stat. 230.81. The circuit court reversed the decision of the DWD. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an opinion alone, as to the lawfulness or appropriateness of government activity, is not “information” as defined in section 230.80(5); (2) the communication at issue in this case was not a “disclosure” under section 230.81 because the information was already known to the persons receiving the communication; and (3) Schigur’s assertion that the DOJ believed that she disclosed information rested on a misinterpretation of section 230.80(8)(c) and therefore failed. View "State Dep’t of Justice v. State Dep’t of Workforce Dev." on Justia Law

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After exhausting their administrative remedies, Plaintiffs, six employees of Husco International, Inc., brought this wage claim case behalf of themselves and others similarly situated seeking back pay for unpaid twenty-minute meal breaks taken during the two-year period preceding the filing of their complaint. The union had previously agreed to unpaid meal breaks in every collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiated since 1983 at the company’s Waukesha plant. This provision, however, was in conflict with a Department of Workforce Development (DWD) regulation that requires employers to pay employees for meal breaks that are shorter than thirty minutes. The practice was later ended. The circuit court denied both parties’ summary judgment motions. The court of appeals granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs, reasoning that the CBA could not trump the DWD meal-break regulation. The Supreme court reversed, holding that the employees were not entitled, under the DWD regulation, to back pay for the unpaid meal breaks in this case. View "Aguilar v. Husco Int’l, Inc." on Justia Law

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A Milwaukee County General Ordinance prospectively eliminated Medicare Part B premium reimbursement upon retirement for employees who did not retire before retirement dates established by Milwaukee County. Plaintiffs were of retirement age, had fifteen years of credited service to the County, but did not retire by the dates established in the ordinance. Plaintiffs claimed that the ordinance impaired their vested contract right to reimbursement of Medicare Part B premiums when they retire. The court of appeals granted summary judgment to Milwaukee County. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the County did not abrogate a vested contract right when it prospectively modified a health insurance benefit it offered for employees who had not yet retired; (2) County employees have a vested contract right to Medicare Part B premium reimbursement when they fulfill all three criteria for its payment, including actual retirement; and (3) because Plaintiffs did not meet all three criteria in this case, they did not fulfill the requirements necessary to establish a vested contract right to reimbursement. View "Wis. Fed’n of Nurses and Health Prof’ls v. Milwaukee County" on Justia Law