By: Neil L. Wojtal
IV. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY/FAIR
A. Every employer should also review their hiring, firing and discipline
procedures to ensure that they are in compliance with the federal and state equal employment opportunity and fair employment laws. The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (Sec. 111.31 – 111.395 of the Wisconsin Statutes) provides that it is unlawful for employers, employment agencies, labor unions and licensing agencies to discriminate against employees and job applicants because of any of the following:
age, ancestry, arrest record, color, conviction record, creed, disability, genetic testing, honesty testing, marital status, military service, national origin, pregnancy or childbirth, race, sex, sexual orientation, or use or nonuse of lawful products off of the employer's premises during nonworking hours. Employees may not be harassed in the workplace, based on their inclusion in any of these protected categories. There is a 300 day time limit for filing a discrimination complaint.
In addition, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint, for assisting with a complaint or for opposing discrimination in the workplace.
You can find an explanation of all of these protected categories on the DWD website at:
Wisconsin also has several laws that protect employees from retaliation for reporting issues related to specific industries and working conditions. Such as labor standards, elder abuse, public employee health and safety, health care workers and toxic chemicals in the workplace. You can view these laws on the DWD website at:
B. Sexual Harassment: An employer must eliminate any workplace condition that could create a hostile environment or be considered sexual harassment under the state and federal EEO/Fair Employment laws. It is recommended that an employer create a formalized anti-harassment policy which includes an investigation procedure. You should also institute a periodic training procedure for all employees. You should look at your workplace to determine if anything within the workplace could be creating a hostile work environment such as obscene or pornographic materials in public view, inappropriate language use by employees and the general interaction between employees in the workplace. The DWD has a publication available which can help with this evaluation at:
Part 5 to follow
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