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Employee Discipline: Wisconsin

Employee Discipline requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: Daniel Finerty, Lindner & Marsack, S.C.

Summary

  • While Wisconsin is an at-will state, employers should consider additional Wisconsin-specific legal protections when assessing the risks associated with discipline. See Employment At-Will.
  • The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act provides protections for employees that are broader than existing protections under federal law and include protections from discrimination due to protected categories such as sexual orientation, arrest or conviction records, marital status or use or non-use of lawful products. See Wisconsin Fair Employment Act.
  • Wisconsin law defines the employer practice of requiring lie detector tests as an unfair employment practice. See Polygraph or Lie Detector Tests.
  • The City of Madison and the City of Milwaukee each have their own specific equal opportunity ordinances that prohibit discrimination against applicants based on categories not otherwise covered by state or federal law, such as student status, appearance, source of income, gender identity and other categories. See Municipal Employment Ordinances.
  • Employees that engage in protected activity, through either opposition or participation, are generally protected from retaliation under the WFEA and numerous other provisions in Wisconsin law. See Wisconsin Fair Employment Act; Retaliation.
  • The Health Care Worker Protection Act provides protection from retaliation to health care facility and health care provider employees who, in good faith, report quality of care concerns to those in a position to take corrective action. See Health Care Worker Protection Act.
  • The Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act provides employees the right to leave and generally prohibits an employer issuing discipline or in any other manner discriminating against any individual for exercising any rights, or opposing a practice prohibited, by the WFMLA. See Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Wisconsin law prohibits misuse of employer's trade secrets and computer crimes. See Computer Crimes; Trade Secrets.
  • A Wisconsin employer that threatens to communicate to anyone information, whether true or false, that would injure the reputation of the employee or another person, unless the employee transfers property, may be subject to criminal penalties. See Injury to Reputation.
  • Wisconsin law does not require keeping personnel records. However, for employers who keep personnel records, Wisconsin employees are permitted to inspect their personnel file twice per calendar year. See Personnel Records.
  • If an agreement cannot be reached with the employer regarding the removal of a record disputed by an employee, the employee is permitted to submit a rebuttal statement to be attached to the disputed record. The rebuttal statement must remain attached whenever the disputed record is copied or produced. See Personnel Records.
  • Wisconsin law obligates employers to pose specific notices in the workplace. See Workplace Posters.