Please be advised that contacting Ruder Ware by e-mail does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you contact the firm by e-mail with respect to a matter where the firm does not already represent you, any information which you disclose to us may not be regarded as privileged or confidential.

Accept   Cancel

Please be advised that contacting Ruder Ware by e-mail does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you contact the firm by e-mail with respect to a matter where the firm does not already represent you, any information which you disclose to us may not be regarded as privileged or confidential.

Accept   Cancel

PAL Login

linkedin.jpgyoutube.jpgvimeo.jpgtwitter_off.png View Ruder Ware

Search Results

Searching for Articles by Sara J. Ackermann
Sara J. Ackermann
Chair of Employment, Benefits & Labor Relations Practice Group
Wausau Office
Found 14 Results.

Sticks and Stones Can Break My Bones But Words Will Never Hurt Me….Unless I Work in California!

Posted on February 2, 2015, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

A California law that recently took effect requires company supervisors to undergo anti-bullying training. Mandated training is nothing new for California employers. Since 2005, California has required employers with 50 or more employees to conduct sexual harassment training of supervisors within 6 months of assuming a supervisory position and biennially thereafter. However, the new law expands the mandated content of this training to include training on prevention of “abusive conduct.” The statute defines "abusive conduct” as conduct of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that a reasonable person would find hostile, offensive, and unrelated to an employer’s legitimate business interests. The statute further provides that abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults, and epithets, verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating, or the gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance. However, “a single act shall not constitute abusive conduct, unless especially severe and egregious.” The new law does not further specify the content of the training on prevention of abusive conduct, nor does it mandate that any specific amount of time be allotted to this topic within the 2-hour sexual harassment training.  Why should Wisconsin employers care about a California law if they don’t have employees in California? Because the passage of this law is a sign that anti-bullying legislation is here to stay. While California’s law does not create a private right of action for an employee against the employer to seek damages for workplace bullying, several states, including Wisconsin, have legislation pending that would create such a right. All employers, regardless of location, should integrate anti-bullying training into their current training programs. Whether or not unlawful, bullying increases attrition, decreases production and deflates morale. There is no better time than the present to create a bully-free workplace...whether or not it is unlawful.

Breaking News: Judge Says He Will Issue Ruling on November 22 Regarding DOL Proposed OT Rule!

Posted on November 17, 2016, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

As we reported recently, (see DOL Overtime Rule Update: Breaking News!!!!!) 21 States and multiple business groups have filed suit in the Eastern District of Texas seeking a delay in the implementation of the proposed OT rule set for December 1.   Yesterday, the judge assigned to that case advised the parties he will issue his ruling on November 22.  We will keep you posted as to the outcome of that ruling.

Judge Strikes Down DOL’s Proposed Overtime Rule!

Posted on September 8, 2017, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

Finally, it appears we have closure on this saga that started over a year ago!  On August 31st, the same Texas federal district court judge who granted a preliminary injunction last November delaying the effective date of the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule, issued a final judgment invalidating the rule.  As you may recall, the Obama-era overtime rule attempted to: double the minimum salary required for exemption from overtime of executive, administrative, and professional employees from $455 to $913 per week. establish a mechanism to automatically update the salary and compensation levels every three years.  In his decision, the district court judge concluded that: Congress unambiguously directed the [DOL] to exempt from overtime pay employees who perform bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity duties. However [the new DOL rule] makes overtime status depend predominately on a minimum salary level, thereby supplanting an analysis of an employer’s job duties. . . . Because the [rule] would exclude many employees who perform exempt duties, the [DOL] fails to carry out Congress’s unambiguous intent. For similar reasons, the judge struck down the automatic salary updates as well. What Wisconsin employers need to know: Whether the DOL under the current administration will propose any overtime rules remains to be seen, but we do not anticipate any major changes in the foreseeable future. We will keep you posted on further developments! If you have questions, contact your favorite employment law attorney!  

Drafting Enforceable Agreements Presentation

Posted on February 26, 2013, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

I recently presented "Restrictive Covenants in Employment: Drafting Enforceable Agreements" at the State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® 2012 Health, Labor, and Employment Law Institute. A video of the presentation can be seen here on the State Bar of Wisconsin's website. Source: Jan. 16, 2013 issue of WisBar® InsideTrack, published by the State Bar of Wisconsin

NFL on the Defensive: What Your Organization Can Learn From the Rice Incident

Posted on September 11, 2014, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

If you are one of the 150 million Americans that tunes in to weekly NFL games, you know that the NFL is now under fire for how it handled the original investigation into the Ray Rice domestic violence allegations. Regardless of whether you follow football, you should check out my recent article, "NFL on the Defensive: What Your Organization Can Learn From the Rice Incident" for insight on how critical it is for an organization to conduct a thorough investigation when addressing allegations of internal misconduct whether it be theft, harassment, or some other transgression. If the misconduct later leads to litigation, investigation by a government agency, or is leaked to the media, your investigation will be scrutinized. You need to be prepared to justify not only the investigation, but also every decision made based on that investigation. The scrutiny won't be fun. If you don't believe me, just ask Roger Goodell.

“In Sickness and in Health…”: DOL Issues Final Rule Granting FMLA Rights to Married Same-Sex Couples

Posted on March 10, 2015, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

In a win for same-sex married couples, the DOL has revised the FMLA so that employees in legal same-sex marriages can take FMLA leave to care for their spouse or family member, regardless of where they live. The regulation is effective March 27, 2015. For the full legal update, including a summary of what this means for Wisconsin employers, click here. 

Breaking News: Texas Judge Delays Overtime Rule!

Posted on November 22, 2016, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

Late today, a Texas federal district court judge issued a ruling that DELAYS the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rule that was set to go into effect on December 1.  This means that a hearing will be scheduled to determine whether or not the DOL exceeded its authority in issuing the Rule that would increase the salary threshold for white collar exemptions.  Employers may want to consider delaying any changes to employees’ compensation pending the final outcome of this litigation.  At this time, we do not know how long it will be until a hearing will be scheduled.  We will keep you posted on further developments.  In the meantime, contact your Ruder Ware labor and employment team with questions.

If You Are A Federal Contractor/Sub-Contractor Your Workers Got a Boost In Pay: $10.10 New Minimum Wage for Workers on Federal Contracts

Posted on October 7, 2014, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

... On February 12, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13658, "Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors," to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for a... …...unced that it will publish a Final Rule implementing the provisions of Executive Order 13658. This Order applies to new contracts and replacements for expiring contracts with the Fed... …...15. For more information, please visit the Wage and Hour Division's Executive Order 13658 web page at or call your favorite employment law att...

"I always feel like somebody's watching me."

Posted on October 28, 2013, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

Recently a client's Human Resources Manager complained to me that there was "nothing" the company could do to prevent an employee from "faking a migraine" when she felt like taking off in the middle of the day. This particular employee was certified for intermittent leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, but the same question could arise had the employee been taking leave as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. I responded, "But of COURSE there is SOMETHING you can do, have you thought of placing her on surveillance?" The HR Manager was surprised with my response. "Can we really do that?," she asked. I explained that so long as she hired a reputable company to do the surveillance -we don't want someone who is going to trespass or otherwise engage in illegal activity during the surveillance process- there was nothing under the FMLA or the ADA that barred an employer from putting an employee on surveillance to confirm suspicion of FMLA or ADA fraud. Of course, it should be something considered only in cases where a strong suspicion exists so there could be no allegation that the employer "interfered" with an employee's right to take FMLA. (Strong suspicion might exist when the employee is curiously absent every Friday afternoon and Monday morning, for example.) Before surveillance, make sure the employee understands the "rules" regarding FMLA leave so there are no misunderstandings. For example, if the employee leaves in the middle of the shift due to a migraine, and the migraine is over in an hour, is he supposed to return to work or can he then stay home the rest of his shift? Also, make sure you understand what the employee can and cannot do. If the employee is suffering from depression, it might not be considered FMLA abuse if she is seen shopping, running errands, or playing with her children during times when she is too blue to work. For example, in one case an employee claimed she was wrongfully terminated for alleged FMLA abuse when she was just doing what the doctor ordered by engaging in routine daily errands during her leave. Nelson v. Oshkosh Truck Corp., No. 07-C-509, 2008 WL 4379557 (E.D. Wis. Sept. 23, 2008). Bottom line: If you have an honest good faith question regarding whether an employee is engaging in FMLA fraud (or taking any leave for fraudulent reasons) then surveillance might be your answer. "I always feel like somebody's watching me."

Is it Only a Matter of Time Before LGBT Individuals Have Federal Employment Protection??

Posted on November 12, 2013, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

Remember Jack Tripper? Pretending to be gay to stay in the coveted apartment with Chrissy and Janet? Oh, the ruse Jack played for years with multiple landlords who never quite caught on to Jack's true identity. In the employment setting, the opposite is true. Employees are more likely to hide their gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender identity and pretend to be straight so as not to suffer discrimination in the workplace. While several states, including Wisconsin, protect these individuals from employment discrimination, there is currently no federal legal protection. This, however, could change. On November 7, the U.S. Senate passed Senate Bill 815, also known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban employers from discriminating in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Will this legislation, first proposed nearly twenty years ago, get through the House of Representatives? For employers with employees in states that currently offer no legal protection for LGBT individuals in the workplace, this is one to watch.

The DOL Has Had a Busy Summer!

Posted on July 28, 2015, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

The DOL has had a busy summer!  From proposed overtime rules to independent misclassification warnings, the prudent employer should take notice.  For more information, see my two recent legal updates: Hey Employers! The DOL is Watching - Are Your Workers Properly Classified?, and What is the Overtime Proposal and Why Should I Care?

Check Your Handbooks!!! UPS Settles Maximum Leave Policy Violations for $2 million.

Posted on August 9, 2017, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

The EEOC filed suit against UPS on behalf of approximately 90 current and former employees for multiple violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The agency charged UPS with failing to properly accommodate employees with disabilities.  Most importantly, the EEOC alleged that UPS had a maximum leave policy that automatically terminated employees when they reached 12 months of leave, without engaging in the interactive process required by law.  UPS settled the claim for $2 million, and agreed to make several changes to its policies. What this means for Wisconsin employers:  Maximum leave policies are unlawful under both Wisconsin’s Fair Employment Practices Act and the ADA.  This includes any limitation on leave after an employee exhausts leave under FMLA or a short-term disability plan.   Review your handbooks and internal policies as soon as possible to make sure you are not in violation of the law.  If you need assistance with this review, feel free to contact your favorite Labor and Employment law attorney.

The Ultimate Bait and Switch? Female Job Applicant Who Claims She Was Forced to Perform Sexual Favors as Part of Application Process has no Title VII Claim Because the Job she was Applying for Did Not Exist.

Posted on February 26, 2014, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

The story begins when Phil Vanaria, an employee of Cook County's Oak Forest Hospital learns from a friend that Krystal Wilson, an out-of-work massage therapist, was offering to perform massages at her home studio. Vanaria contacted Wilson regarding her services, and suggested there may be some positions open at the Hospital for which she would be qualified. (Yes, gentle reader, you can see where this is headed.) Of course, there was no job, and even if there had been a job, Vanaria did not have authority to hire anybody. He eventually convinced Wilson there was a physical therapist position that was available and encouraged her to apply. Throughout the interview process, Vanaria required Wilson to remove her clothing, kiss him, massage him and manually stimulate him. Vanaria even enlisted the help of a female friend to pose as an HR manager and call Wilson about the position. (Who IS this guy? How does he get another woman to help him with this?) Unfortunately the "HR Manager" indicated that before Wilson could be formally considered, she needed to meet with Vanaria one final time. This was enough to tip Wilson off that the interview process might not be legit (Really?) and she contacted the Hospital directly. (Better late than never sister!) Wilson then brings a Title VII claim alleging sexual discrimination and harassment. The Illinois District Court dismissed her claim, and last week the Seventh Circuit agreed Wilson had no claim because there was no actual job. Wilson v. Cook County, (No. 13-164, 2014 WL 503673 (7th Cir. Feb. 10, 2014).) Readers, this isn't rocket science. One cannot say they have been denied a job because of sex when there was no job in the first place. However, it is still very, very slimy.

Today the DOL Announced its Long-awaited Final Rule!

Posted on May 18, 2016, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Filed under Employment

Today the Department of Labor (DOL) announced its long-awaited rule expanding overtime protection for employees.  Attorney Sara Ackermann wrote a short legal update detailing the highlights.  In addition, the update contains a link to the DOL’s resource page.