• Posts by Robert W. Burns

    Workplaces and schools are two of the most dynamic and sometimes controversial areas in our society, and often times the “laboratories” for legislative policy enactment. Bob’s practice serves both. He helps employers and ...

It is more and more common for employers to hear employee allegations of a “hostile work environment,” “harassment” or a “toxic workplace.” In some instances current or former employees are using those terms as a defense mechanism when their performance is being criticized or they are facing discipline or discharge. Often the terms are used to describe the behavior of supervisors or co-workers. It is important for employers to properly assess such allegations and determine whether there is the potential for employer liability.

A prior article reviewed a decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court which dealt with the relationship between the workplace and an applicant’s prior domestic violence convictions (Cree, Inc., v. LIRC).  This article will discuss a case which followed later in 2022, a decision of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in Vega v. LIRC, et al.,  2021 AP 24, Petition for Review Denied, which dealt with whether an employee’s admission to his employer of the facts underlying two felony deferred prosecution agreements for sexual assault could serve as an independent basis to terminate the employment of the employee.

Although the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA) has included arrest and conviction record as a category protected from discrimination since 1977, a decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court last year demonstrates that the contours of protection under the law are still being developed. In general, the law requires any Wisconsin employer (with some limited exceptions such as schools dealing with unpardoned felons) to establish that a “substantial relationship” exists between the circumstances of the arrest or charge (in order to suspend an employee) or the conviction (to refuse hiring or terminate employment).

Welcome to the Labor and Employment Law Update where attorneys from Amundsen Davis blog about management side labor and employment issues. 



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