We recently addressed some negative changes occurring to Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance laws and the dire consequences they will bring for many unskilled or impoverished workers. Essentially, Wisconsin workers who have the most difficulty finding work will soon face even more daunting obstacles to qualify for unemployment benefits. In contrast to this statewide disenfranchisement, the City of Madison is acting to support unemployed workers. Last week, the Madison City Council boldly amended a local ordinance to prohibit employers from discriminating against the unemployed and unemployment applicants, many of whom will remain destitute as a result of the statewide changes. While it remains unclear how the City will detect and enforce discrimination against unemployed citizens, this is a clear and positive step to help those who need it.

Madison Employers May Not Discriminate Based on Employment Status

On December 3, the Madison City Council passed ORD-13-00211 which prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants based on their unemployment status. The new Ordinance bans Madison employers from discriminating against individuals based on their unemployment status with respect to their compensation, or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. For example, an employer cannot offer a lower salary to one applicant who has been unemployed for six months than it has to a similar applicant who has been unemployed only a short time.

Employers are also prohibited from limiting, segregating, or classifying employees or job applicants based on unemployment status so as to deprive them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their employment status. For example, an employer cannot rank job applicants according to whether they are currently or were recently unemployed.

The new law also prohibits employers from using advertisements that seek to exclude applicants on the basis of their unemployment status. An example of this would be an employer posting a job advertisement including language stating unemployed persons should not apply; under the new ordinance, such action is now legally regarded as unemployment discrimination in Madison.

These new protections again Madison unemployment discrimination will allow people who believe they have been subjected to discrimination an opportunity to file a discrimination complaint with the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission. If someone successfully proves an employer has illegally discriminated against him in any of the ways banned in the new law, he is entitled to monetary and other relief.

Contact an Attorney to Discuss Any Madison Unemployment Discrimination

There are many more issues and complexities to these laws and their application to Madison employees than described in this brief post. If you have questions about your eligibility for unemployment benefits or feel like you have experienced unemployment discrimination in Madison, Wisconsin, please contact one of the experienced Madison employment attorneys at Hawks Quindel, S.C.

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Colin Good