Employment Disputes & Mediation

Employment law is the law that governs the relationship between the employer and the employee. It serves to protect the employer from frivolous or unfair claims. And, it protects the employee to make valid, sound claims that are guided by statutory, regulatory and common Wisconsin and Federal laws, as interpreted.

I have negotiated, litigated, and mediated a great number of employment disputes both on behalf of the employer and the employee.

EMPLOYER REPRESENTATION

The legacy of your corporation may be affected if you do not properly provide for wage protections, FMLA issues, potential issues of disparate/discriminatory treatment of employees that may lead to discipline including “wrongful” termination, on the job sexual harassment, severance negotiations – including reduction in force (“RIF”) issues and alternative dispute resolution options (particularly mediation of disputes).

Once a valid claim is brought forward, properly defending against such a claim is necessary to prevent from public embarrassment, legal action, and grave financial loss. This will require a comprehensive decision tree analysis through negotiation and mediation of such disputes. And, effective advocacy at hearing.

EMPLOYEE REPRESENTATION

Suffering on the job or from a termination you feel is “wrongful” is “real”. It is unfair for you to be told that what you are feeling is “wrong”. However, that does not mean that what you have suffered is illegal under Wisconsin and federal employment laws. To an employment lawyer, it is hard to tell a potential client that what they have suffered is real but not illegal. That happens sometimes, but sometimes what the employee has suffered is illegal. In such instances, said employee has a case I can help with.

I can help in cases concerning issues over minimum wage, overtime wage, prevailing wage, promissory estoppel, contract breach, quantum meruit, diminution, or reduction of share-capital, FMLA discrimination, FMLA retaliation, FMLA failure to rehire, sexual harassment, hostile work environment claims, wrongful termination claims, retaliation claims, severance negotiations, and representation through alternative dispute resolution – at an arbitration or mediation.

ACTING AS MEDIATOR

Many times, parties to a dispute will engage in productive negotiations that do not lead to resolution. In such situations, it is good to have an experienced, trained, certified and knowledgeable mediator. I am experienced, trained, certified, and knowledgeable in mediation and have a collaborative mediation style.

WAGE ISSUES

As it pertains to wage/earnings/income issues, whether you are an employer or employee, it’s important that you hire counsel you feel comfortable with to assist you in fighting on your behalf. A failure by the employer to comply with relevant wage laws as required by Wisconsin statutes and the FLSA can subject the employer to liability up to two times wage owed plus costs and fees. This pertains to failures relative to salaries paid in lieu of wage and overtime requirements. Moreover, it is necessary that the employer follow minimum wage guidelines. In the context of prevailing wage and immigration prevailing wage, it is just as necessary that the employer complies.

FMLA

As it pertains to Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) federal and Wisconsin state laws, whether you are an employer or employee, it’s important that you hire counsel you feel comfortable with to assist you in fighting on your behalf. FMLA requires that an employer not discriminate against, or retaliate against, an employee electing to take FMLA leave. This is true whether the leave is designated continuous or intermittent. Similarly, upon return to work from FMLA leave, an employee must be rehired to his or her position or a position that is substantially similar. However, if intermittent leave is taken fraudulently, it is permissible for the employer to terminate him or her.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

As it pertains to Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA) and Title Seven (VII), whether you are an employer or employee, it’s important that you hire counsel you feel comfortable with to assist you in fighting on your behalf. Hostile work environment claims premised on sexual harassment have a very high burden. They require both that the victim was treated in a way that both objectively and subjectively prevented the employee from performing her/his job. The burden is that claims premised on words alone require a persistent and consistent pattern of inappropriate comments. Claims premised on touching are easier to prevail on.

HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT

As it pertains to federal and state law claims premised on treatment on the basis of protected conduct or classification, as provided for under WFEA, Title VII, ADA, FLSA, FMLA, OSHA, Sarbannes-Oxley or the many whistleblower statutes, etc., whether you are an employer or employee, it’s important to find counsel you trust. All hostile work environment claims premised on discrimination/disparate treatment require proof that the treatment made the victim’s job both objectively and subjectively difficult. In the case of words alone, this requires persistent, inappropriate comments.

WRONGFUL TERMINATION

As it pertains to federal and state law claims premised on wrongful termination based on protected conduct or classification, as provided for under WFEA, Title VII, ADA, FLSA, FMLA, OSHA, Sarbanes-Oxley or the many whistleblower statutes, etc., whether you are an employer or employee, a termination is wrongful if it is decided on for improper reasons. This occurs when the true motive for termination was because of the protected conduct or classification. Such cases many times require proof of someone not in a protected class that was not terminated – when they engaged in similar conduct to that for which the employee at issue was allegedly terminated. This burden, the fourth part of the prima facie case requirement since the 1970s, is the part of the burden that typically separates an actionable claim from one that isn’t actionable. It’s not the only way to prove wrongful termination though, as direct, causal nexus, and circumstantial mosaics of proof are other methods. It is important to work with an Attorney you can trust in bringing or defending such claims.

RETALIATION

When a Complainant complains to an employer/respondent, to the extent the complaint is about something protected under federal or state law, or reasonably believed to be so protected, it is improper for the employer to “retaliate” against the complainant. Retaliation includes any “adverse” employment action, including docking pay, providing a disciplinary notice to the complainant, suspending complainant, or terminating complainant. To prove the reason for termination was the protected complaint, the employee must show there is a “causal nexus” or circumstantial mosaic of proof connecting the complaint to the termination. Again, it is very important that you work with a Wisconsin Attorney whom you can trust to bring or defend such claims.

SEVERANCE NEGOTIATIONS

Severance negotiations occur when an employer and employee have reasons to settle their differences and enter into an agreement, typically a separation agreement. Whether you are an employer or employee is typically advisable for you to hire trusted Wisconsin counsel both to negotiate such claims and to draft comprehensive and binding separation agreements.

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION REPRESENTATION

Most of the time, in my experience, negotiations, and mediations lead to the quickest and most creative outcomes. In addition, for various reasons, arbitration is many times preferred over litigation in court as well. Many times, a well-drafted employment contract that includes alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) options can serve both the employer and employee well to control what would happen in case there is a dispute during the employment relationship.

It is important for you to find the right person to protect you in arbitrated, mediated, and negotiated disputes. I have been a court-appointed mediator. And, I have privately mediated a number of disputes through my law firm. I have privately participated in employment arbitration, as a party representative. And, I have engaged in countless business and employment disputes. In serving as a court-appointed mediator, I was trained by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, Janine Geske in acting as mediator. In addition to my doctorate in law, I have a graduate certificate in Dispute Resolution from a top-10 legal dispute resolution program in the country.