In some circumstances, employers do not pay employees the full amount of monies which are owed to them. Wisconsin has a number of Labor Standards Laws which offer protections to employees, but which vary considerably in their coverage and requirements. Employers covered by these standards may also be subject, in some cases, to similar Federal Laws. There are remedies for employees who are impermissibly denied pay, wages, leave, or who experience impermissible deductions. Wisconsin’s Fair Labor Standards Laws are administered through the Department of Workforce Development. You may retain an attorney to assist you in making claims against your employer. If you are successful, you may obtain the unpaid benefits and any attorney’s fees incurred in prosecuting the action.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against any employee who files a complaint, attempts to enforce a right permitted by statute, or testifies in a case or assists in a case under the State’s Labor Standards Laws. The law’s protections also apply if an employer takes an adverse employment action against the employee because that employer believes the employee has exercised any of the above rights.
Employers are not required to provide meal periods to adult employees, but it is recommended in the law that employers provide 30 minutes or more for a meal period. Employers must provide meal periods to all employees under the age of 18. Meal periods provided to minors must be at least 30 minutes in length, and reasonably close to the usual mealtimes of 6:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m./noon, 6:00 p.m., and 12:00 a.m./midnight, or near the middle of the shift. No minor may be employed for more than six consecutive hours without a meal period. Employers must pay all employees for “on duty” meal periods. An “on duty” meal period is one where the worker is not provided at least 30 minutes free from work, or where the worker is not free to leave the employer’s premises. Employers are also not allowed to require that meals be accepted as part of the worker’s wages.
Employers may require applicants for employment, or employees, to take medical examinations. The employer may pay the costs of those examinations if they are a condition of being hired or remaining employed.
Wisconsin sets minimum hourly wages which employer’s must use to pay minors under the age of 18 and adults. The Wisconsin law applies to all private and public employers including non-profit organizations, regardless of whether they are covered by the Federal Minimum Wage Law. A separate minimum wage rate exists for employees who receive gratuities or tips from patrons. Employers must pay wages under the schedule for “tipped employees” if they can establish by payroll records that, when tips and wages are added together at the end of a pay period, they at least equal the general minimum wage rate. Deductions also may be made for board and lodging, within limitations, which vary by employment and the employee’s age. Sub-minimum wages are authorized only to employers licensed by the Department of Workforce Development who employ persons with disabilities, operate rehabilitation facilities, or participate in bonafide student/learner programs.
The law provides that all employees in establishments must be given 24 hours of consecutive rest in each calendar week. The law does not provide that the rest must be given every 7 days. An employer may legally schedule work for 12 consecutive days within a 2 week period if the days of rest fall on the first and last days of the 2 week period. Some employers are exempt from this requirement.
Wisconsin has a general overtime pay requirement. Workers, regardless of age, must be paid one and one-half (1 ½) times the regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week, generally. Certain occupations are exempted from overtime, such as administrative, executive, and professional employees, as well as certain outside sales and commissioned employees. Often employers incorrectly categorize an employee as “exempt” and attempt to forego paying overtime. This is often the subject of a dispute as to whether the exemption was appropriate or not. There are many other facets to Wisconsin’s Employment Law that imparts certain rights in workers, such as the right of certain physical accommodations for manufacturing, mechanical and commercial establishments, sick and vacation pay. Workers have rights to contest deductions that are inappropriate.
The law is quite complex and involves a statutory mix of Federal and State regulations. If you feel that you have a Fair Labor Standards complaint, you should seek the assistance of legal counsel. Attorney Daul has a vast amount of experience in this area and consults frequently with his clients on these subjects.