Justia Labor & Employment Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Wisconsin Supreme Court
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development v. Wisconsin Labor & Industry Review Commission
In this dispute over unemployment compensation benefits, the Supreme Court held that the plain language of Wis. Stat. 108.04(5)(e) allows an employer to adopt its own absenteeism policy that differs from the policy set forth in the statute. Further, termination for the violation of the employer’s absenteeism policy will result in disqualification from receiving unemployment compensation benefits even if the employer’s absenteeism policy is more restrictive than the policy set forth in section 108.04(5)(e).Employee was denied unemployment compensation on the ground that she was terminated for “misconduct” - namely, absenteeism, as defined by section 108.04(5)9e). The circuit court concluded that an employer’s violation of the employer’s absenteeism rules constitutes “misconduct” under section 108.04(5)(e) barring unemployment compensation benefits. The court of appeals disagreed, holding that an employee who is terminated for violating an employer’s absenteeism rules is not barred from obtaining unemployment benefits unless the employee’s conduct violates the statutory definition of misconduct based on absenteeism. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Employee was properly denied benefits under the circumstances of this case. View "Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development v. Wisconsin Labor & Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law
Wisconsin Bell, Inc. v. Labor & Industry Review Commission
The Labor and Industry Review Commission’s version of the “inference method” of finding discriminatory intent is inconsistent with Wis. Stat. 111.322(1) because it excuses the employee from his burden of proving discriminatory intent.Employee argued that Employer intentionally discriminated against him when it terminated his employment because of his disability. LIRC agreed and concluded that Employer violated the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA). The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) LIRC’s version of the “inference method” impermissibly allows imposition of WFEA liability without proof of discriminatory intent, which is inconsistent with the requirements of section 11.322(1); and (2) the record lacked substantial evidence that Employer terminated Employee’s employment because of his disability. View "Wisconsin Bell, Inc. v. Labor & Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law
McNally v. Capital Cartage, Inc.
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
Wisconsin Ass’n of State Prosecutors v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission
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
Manitowoc Co. v. Lanning
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
Flug v. Labor & Industry Review Commission
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
Operton v. Labor & Industry Review Commission
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
Milwaukee Police Ass’n v. City of Milwaukee
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
United Food & Commercial Workers Union v. Hormel Foods Corp.
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
State Dep’t of Justice v. State Dep’t of Workforce Dev.
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