Employee Privacy: Wisconsin
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Daniel Finerty, Lindner & Marsack, S.C.
- Wisconsin's Privacy Statute generally protects employees from the types of invasions of privacy that are usually recognized at common law. See Privacy Statute.
- Wisconsin is a one-party consent state and it is not unlawful for one person to record a conversation with another. In addition, employers are permitted to monitor employee communication in the course of business. See Telephone Monitoring.
- Wisconsin law does not regulate employer monitoring of employee email use. Generally, any technology policies should reserve the employer's right to monitor all use of company technology, and state that the employer will exercise that right when there is a legitimate business need to do so. See Email Surveillance.
- Wisconsin law prohibits requiring an employee to be implanted with a microchip. See Microchip Implantation.
- Wisconsin employers are generally prohibited from placing surveillance equipment in areas such as locker rooms; however, where such monitoring is permitted, a notice must also be posted providing information relating to the monitoring. See Workplace Surveillance.
- The Employment Peace Act, administered by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, governs employers not covered by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and prohibits unfair labor practices similar prohibited by the NLRA. See Employment Peace Act.
- Wisconsin employers are generally prohibited from genetic testing similar to existing prohibitions under federal law. See Genetic Testing.
- Wisconsin employers may not require or use the results of a lie detector test, except in limited circumstances. See Lie Detector Tests.
- Reputation, personal identity and personal information are all protected by Wisconsin statute. See Injury to Reputation, Identity Theft and Personal Information Protection.
- No statute generally governs drug and alcohol testing in Wisconsin, except that construction contractors and subcontractor engaged on public works projects are required to have a substance abuse policy and actively enforce its prohibitions. See Drug and Alcohol Testing.
- Wisconsin employers may not discriminate against applicants or employees with arrest or conviction records except in limited circumstances such as where the circumstances of a conviction reasonably related to the requirements of a job. See Arrest and Conviction Records.
- Wisconsin employers can prohibit employees that are properly licensed to carry concealed weapons from doing so during the course of their employment, but may not prohibit the storing such concealed weapons in their vehicles regardless of whether the vehicle is used for work or parked on employer property. See Concealed Carry.
- Wisconsin law prohibits smoking in places of employment, including restaurants, taverns and work vehicles, and obligates employers to take reasonable action to prohibit smoking, including, but not limited to, posting a No Smoking sign. See Smoking Ban.
- Wisconsin employers enjoy qualified immunity from civil liability for providing reference information to a prospective employer and are presumed to be acting in good faith upon providing reference information unless the conditional privilege afforded to employers is abused. See Employment Reference Statute.
- Wisconsin employers that maintain personnel records must provide an employee inspection of the contents of such records within seven days of the request but may charge reasonable copying costs if copies are requested. See Personnel Records.
- If an employer determines that disclosure of an employee's medical records may be detrimental to the employee, the employer may release the employee's medical record to a physician designated by the employee. See Medical Records.
- An employer may not solicit or require an HIV test as a condition of employment of any employee or prospective employee, and may not affect the terms, conditions or privileges of employment or terminate the employment of any employee who obtains an HIV test. See HIV Testing and Care of Persons with AIDS.