Wisconsin Employer's Guide: A Handbook of Employment Laws and Regulations

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9780735534209: Wisconsin Employer's Guide: A Handbook of Employment Laws and Regulations

This book concerns the most important relationship most people have outside the family: the relationship between an employer and an employee. That relationship is crisscrossed by a complex web of laws and regulations. This book describes those laws in a direct, straightforward fashion.

The Wisconsin Employer's Guide provides the "lay of the land" of personnel law and regulations and integrates the state and federal law that is relevant to an employer. Each section of the book attempts to include both the underlying concept and a simple, straightforward rule.

This book is written in small, self-contained sections. The reader does not need to refer to the rest of the chapter, much less the rest of the book, to find information about a topic. Although this method of writing causes some duplication, it more than repays the reader in the efficiency of its use.

The Wisconsin Employer's Guide is supplemented at least yearly, and more often if major legislation or court cases require. In order to incorporate updated pages easily, the book is published in a three-ring notebook. The Wisconsin Employer's Guide is, and will continue to be, one of the most current employment law books available anywhere in the nation.

"Memo English" is used throughout this book. Whenever possible, the author has avoided terms not found regularly in a newspaper and discussions that would appear out-of-place in a business memo. This book is a non-technical discussion of technical topics.

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About the Author:

The Wisconsin Employer's Guide was written by Amy L. Greenspan, a practicing attorney in Austin, Texas, and editor for Summers Press, Inc. She is a former briefing attorney to the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court and former associate in the Houston law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski. In her 20 years of law practice, she has served as general counsel to a public corporation and as assistant project director on the American Bar Association's revision of the Model Business Corporation Act. She is the editor of the Handbook of Alternative Dispute Resolution, Second Edition, published by the State Bar of Texas in 1990, and author of the Medical Employer's Guide: A Handbook of Employment Laws and Regulations, first published by Summers Press in 1993, and the U.S. Employer's Guide: A Handbook of Employment Laws and Regulations, first published by Summers Press in 1994.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The following are the overviews for each chapter in the Guide.

Chapter 1 Hiring

Hiring is one of the most important elements in the entire work relationship. If the employer hires correctly, the rest of the employment relationship will flow more easily.

This chapter provides basic legal information needed to carry out the hiring process. So many employment laws relate to the hiring process that some, like discrimination laws, are discussed briefly in this chapter with references to later chapters, where they are discussed in detail. Some laws, like those regulating drug tests, are discussed in detail in this chapter even though they apply to employees who have already been hired as well as to prospective employees. In all, this chapter provides employers with information that will help them hire employees legally and efficiently.

In addition, this chapter addresses liability issues affecting employers, as well as alternatives to traditional hiring arrangements.

Chapter 2 Termination of Employment

The employment relationship is one of the most important relationships in many people's lives. The termination of that relationship can be an event of great emotional stress for both employer and employee. This chapter discusses the main legal concerns an employer may encounter in termination situations, both voluntary and involuntary.

Most terminations result from the voluntary resignation or retirement of an employee. This chapter discusses pension regulations and Social Security, which may come into play when an employee retires.

Some terminations are involuntary, resulting from the employer's decision to fire or lay off the employee. The topics in this chapter relating to involuntary terminations include unemployment compensation and the legal actions an employee may have against an employer for "wrongful termination." Wrongful termination is discussed first, since it poses the greatest danger for the employer (and is the area of greatest misunderstanding).

This chapter also discusses issues an employer needs to be aware of when providing references for former employees.

Chapter 3 Health and Safety

One of the chief concerns of both employers and employees is having a safe workplace. Safety is required by law, and employers face tremendous costs in human and material resources if they ignore health and safety issues. This chapter discusses occupational safety laws, as well as workers' compensation for occupational injuries and illnesses. Other health and safety issues, such as workplace violence and smoking, are also discussed. In addition, this chapter gives a general overview of employee health care benefits, including continuation of those benefits after termination of employment.

Chapter 4 Civil and Other Rights

Many people think of civil rights in terms of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. That time period marked a great change in employment law, partly because of the increased involvement of the courts in the workplace. Before that time, most employment-related cases involved contracts, union activity, or minimum wage and overtime pay. Although some civil rights laws affecting employment date from the Civil War, extensive judicial review of fair employment practices began with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Since the 1960s, the concept of non-discriminatory work policies has become an established and significant part of American employment law. While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the first major piece of legislation prohibiting employment discrimination, many other federal and state laws now have an impact in this area. The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991 all increased the duty placed on employers to rid the workplace of discrimination. The damages now available to individuals who are successful in proving a discrimination claim are considerable.

This chapter discusses both federal and Wisconsin laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. In addition, this chapter discusses how a discrimination complaint is filed and investigated and the damages available to individuals who are successful in proving their claims. The chapter concludes with a discussion of privacy in the workplace and other employee rights.

Chapter 5 Hours of Work and Payment of Wages

This chapter discusses the "when" and "how much" of work hours and wage payments. Topics include minimum wages, overtime, time for making wage payments, deductions from wages, and child labor. Employee benefits, which are a significant part of compensation for many employees, are also discussed. The chapter concludes with a discussion of family and medical leave and other required time off for employees.

Chapter 6 Unions, Government Contractors, and Miscellaneous Regulations

This chapter includes information that is especially important to the many employers that are involved either with unions or with government contracts. In addition, all employers need to be familiar with the information on posters and recordkeeping found at the end of this chapter.

The first part of this chapter provides an overview of the laws that regulate the interaction between employers and unions. The focus is on the events leading up to a union election for recognition. The discussion outlines activities that an employer must avoid during union organization efforts, as well as activities that are allowed. The concept of unfair labor practices is also discussed.

The second major topic of this chapter is government contractors. The federal government and many of the states impose special employment-related requirements on contractors and subcontractors.

Finally, this chapter summarizes the posting and recordkeeping requirements that apply to a broad range of employers.

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