United States: Wisconsin Legislature Poised To Prohibit Local Employment Ordinances And Exempt Certain Employers From WFMLA

While all eyes have rightfully been focused on Washington, D.C., during the recent and ongoing drama surrounding the government shutdown, in Madison, the Wisconsin Legislature is poised to take action on two measures that may have a significant impact on Wisconsin employers. In the first bill, the Wisconsin Legislature seeks to prohibit local governments from enacting or enforcing certain employment regulations at the local level. If passed, this bill could summarily put an end to the Madison Equal Opportunity Ordinance. In the second bill, the Wisconsin Legislature would exempt from the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (WFMLA) any employer that is also covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These significant proposals are in keeping with other employer initiatives enacted during Governor Walker's tenure.

The Employment Law Standardization Act

Introduced by Wisconsin State Senator Chris Kapenga, the Employment Law Standardization Act would preempt local governments from enacting or enforcing ordinances related to various employment matters. More specifically, the Act would prohibit any city, village, town, or county from enacting or enforcing an ordinance regarding any of the following matters:

  1. Employment discrimination
  2. Wage claims and collections
  3. Employee hours and overtime, including scheduling of employee work hours and shifts
  4. The employment benefits an employer may be required to provide to its employees
  5. An employer's right to solicit information regarding the salary history of prospective employees

The Act would also prohibit any of those political subdivisions from imposing on individuals occupational licensing requirements that are more stringent than is required by any state law. Finally, the Act would prohibit so-called labor peace agreements, which municipalities may use to force employers to relinquish their rights regarding union organizing granted under the National Labor Relations Act. Under such labor peace agreements, if employers do not agree to certain demands, they risk not receiving the necessary permits, approvals, or licenses to operate. The Act would bar local units of government and the state from mandating this practice, while still allowing willing parties to utilize it. 

Proponents of the legislation argue that the types of local ordinances prohibited by the Act are best governed by uniform statewide policies. They also argue that the Act guarantees uniform employment regulation of employment hours, overtime, benefits, discrimination, and wage claims, as well as prevents employers from being caught in the regulatory spiderweb of nearly 2,000 local governments. Opponents of the legislation  argue that the legislation will restrict the ability of local governments to improve the economic security and working conditions of workers in their communities.

If enacted, one of the more significant consequences could be elimination of the Madison Equal Opportunity Ordinance, which has its own enforcement mechanism and contains a number of protected classes not covered under Wisconsin law. The protected classes that would be eliminated in Madison would include gender identity, non-religion, homelessness, sources of income, lack of Social Security number, physical appearance, political belief, student status, domestic partner status, citizenship, unemployment status, and credit history. In addition, the Act would prohibit future promulgation of local ordinances similar to those that have been enacted across the country, including those that restrict or regulate hours of work, set higher minimum wages, and prohibit inquiries regarding salary history. The recently enacted DePere, Wisconsin, nondiscrimination ordinance would also likely be eliminated.

Family Medical Leave Reform

Under the second piece of legislation, the Wisconsin Legislature would exempt from the WFMLA those employers covered by the federal FMLA. Similar to the Employment Law Stabilization Act, the intent of this bill is to streamline regulations for employers covered by both state and federal law. The bill provides that the WFMLA would not apply to any of the following: 

  1. "An employer that is required to provide leave under the federal family and medical leave law.
  2. An employer that opts to provide leave under the federal family and medical leave law to an employee who is not an eligible employee, so long as the employer provides leave to such an employee in the same manner as the employer provides to an eligible employee." 

The bill would not prohibit an employee who is eligible for federal FMLA leave from taking that leave entitlement to care for a spouse, child, parent, domestic partner, or parent-in-law who has a serious health condition as defined by the WFMLA. However, if enacted, the bill would presumably exempt covered employers from other specific provisions of the WFMLA that are not required under federal law. For example, the WFMLA provides that only an employee gets to choose if he or she will substitute accrued paid or unpaid leave of any type provided by an employer during the period of statutory leave, whereas federal law allows employers to require such substitution. Moreover, the bill would presumably limit the types of employer-provided paid leave an employee could choose to substitute—a choice that has otherwise been construed broadly by Wisconsin court decisions. In addition, the Act would ease the administrative burdens on employers in tracking the use of both state and federal leave on a calendar year and rolling year basis. 

Key Takeaways

Both pieces of legislation are being considered in the current legislative session. Given that Republicans control both chambers of the Wisconsin Legislature, as well as the governorship, and based on similar legislation previously passed under Governor Walker, passage of both bills seems likely. We will continue to monitor and update the status of both of these pieces of legislation and their effects on Wisconsin employers.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions