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Wisconsin Employment Discrimination Attorneys in Madison & MIlwaukee

We Can Help You Enforce Your Right to be Treated Fairly in Your Workplace

What is unlawful employment discrimination in the workplace?

Wisconsin and federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against an employee or job applicant because of the person’s race, color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, disability, military service or genetic information. Under both the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA) and the federal laws below, an employer may not discriminate against an employee or an applicant for employment based on:

  • Race discrimination (federal: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII));
  • Color discrimination (federal: Title VII);
  • National Origin or Ancestry discrimination (federal: Title VII);
  • Creed or Religious discrimination (federal: Title VII);
  • Sex discrimination (federal: Title VII, Equal Pay Act; Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009);
  • Pregnancy discrimination (federal: Title VII, Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA));
  • Age discrimination (federal: Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Older Workers Benefit Protection Act);
  • Disability discrimination (federal: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Rehabilitation Act);
  • Military Service discrimination (federal: Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA));
  • Genetic Information discrimination (federal: Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008)

In addition, the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act prohibits discrimination because of an employee’s sexual orientation, marital status, arrest or conviction record, off-duty use or non-use of a lawful product and refusal to receive employer communications about religion or politics. It also prohibits employer use of lie detectors and discrimination based on an employee’s refusal to submit to a lie detector test or performance on a lie detector test.

The City of Madison has a municipal ordinance that provides additional protection against illegal discrimination. because of an employee’s sex, age, race, color, religion, arrest record, marital status, familial status, the fact that you are a student, national origin or ancestry, physical appearance, handicap/disability, domestic partners, sexual orientation, conviction record, political beliefs, source of income, less than honorable discharge from the military, refusal to disclose Social Security Number, gender identity, genetic identity, citizenship status or credit history.

What employment discrimination actions does the law prohibit?

All adverse employment decisions are covered under the above laws, including:

  • failure to hire or promote
  • disciplinary actions
  • termination of employment

It is also unlawful for an employer to harass an employee for any of the above reasons. For example, subjecting or permitting other employees to subject an employee to a hostile work environment based upon his or her membership in a protected class, such as race or gender, is illegal.

Must an employer say something discriminatory in order for me to prove employment discrimination in the workplace?

No. While direct evidence of illegal motivation (such as the employer telling the employee, “I am firing you because you are [black, Hispanic, white, female, male, pregnant, too old, etc.]”) is certainly helpful in proving discrimination in the workplace, the law specifically recognizes many employment discrimination cases can be proven only by indirect or circumstantial evidence of discriminatory intent. Such evidence may include:

  • the employee was replaced by someone not in the protected class
  • employees outside the protected class received more favorable treatment
  • the employer took other adverse actions against employees in the protected class

The employer will likely claim a non-discriminatory justification for its action. In that case, it will be up to the employee to persuade the judge or jury that the employer’s stated reason was a pretext – a phony reason – and the real reason was unlawful employment discrimination.

What remedies are available if I suffer illegal employment discrimination in the workplace?

The basic remedy is to make the injured employee whole for the losses suffered as a consequence of the employer’s illegal actions. This can include reinstatement to a job from which the employee was terminated with back pay and lost benefits, or requiring the hire or promotion of an employee who was discriminatorily denied the employment opportunity. In certain cases, other damages may be available. The successful employee is entitled to have his or her attorneys’ fees paid by the employer.

Is there protection against employer retaliation?

It is unlawful under both federal and state law to retaliate against an employee for opposing employment discrimination in the workplace, filing a discrimination charge, or testifying or participating in any way in an investigation or proceeding regarding such discrimination.

What steps can employees take if they are experiencing illegal employment discrimination in the workplace?

An employee can also file a formal employment discrimination complaint with the state or federal anti-discrimination agencies. The Wisconsin Equal Rights Division of the Department of Workforce Development can be reached in Madison or Milwaukee:

201 East Washington Avenue Room A300 P.O. Box 8928 Madison, WI 53708 (608) 266-6860 819 North 6th Street Room 723 Milwaukee, WI 53203 (414) 227-4384

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can be reached in Milwaukee at: 310 West Wisconsin Avenue Suite 800 Milwaukee, WI 53203 (414) 297-1111 The Madison Department of Civil Rights can be reached at: 210 ML King, Jr. Blvd. Room 523 Madison, WI 53703 (608) 266-4910

Our Employment Discrimination Attorneys Can Help You Fight For Your Rights

If you think you have experienced illegal employment discrimination in the workplace, you have a variety of legal recourses to fight for your rights. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your workplace situation. To speak with a Madison employment discrimination lawyer, call (800) 610-0040 or (608) 257-0040; to speak with a Milwaukee employment discrimination lawyer, call (800) 236-3348 or (414) 271-8650, or send us an email.