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Searching for Articles published in May 2014.
Found 35 Results.

Api

Posted on May 5, 2014, Authored by ,

Banking and Financial Matters

Posted on May 11, 2014, Authored by Stewart L. Etten, John D. Leary, Randi L. Osberg, Matthew D. Rowe, Christopher M. Seelen, Jeremy M. Welch, Filed under Banking and Financial Matters

Community

Posted on May 5, 2014, Authored by , Filed under Community

Employment

Posted on May 3, 2014, Authored by Sara J. Ackermann, Dean R. Dietrich, Robert J. Reinertson, Mary Ellen Schill, Kevin J.T. Terry, Russell W. Wilson, Filed under Employment

Local Governments and School Districts

Posted on May 5, 2014, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Robert J. Reinertson, Kevin J.T. Terry, Filed under Local Governments and School Districts

Tax Deductions

Posted on May 6, 2014, Authored by Amy E. Ebeling, Melissa S. Kampmann, Mary Ellen Schill, Filed under Tax Deductions

Allergy Relief

Posted on May 9, 2014, Authored by Kevin J.T. Terry, Filed under Local Governments and School Districts

Through the signing of Senate Bill 375, school districts now have more flexibility in assisting students with life-threatening allergies. Prior to the signing of this bill in April, only certain authorized school personnel were allowed to administer an epinephrine auto-injector, also known as EpiPen (a device designated to prevent or treat a life-threatening allergic reaction). Now, this provision is repealed and a school district has the option to draft and adopt a plan for the management of students who suffer from life-threatening allergies. The plan may allow school nurses to provide treatment and manage the individual student's care program. Additionally, the bill grants immunity from civil liability for a school and school personnel for injuries resulting from the administration or self-administration of an EpiPen. School boards and school district administrators may want to take some time this summer to review the number of students in the district who suffer from these life-threatening allergies. Time should be taken to draft policies, train staff, and educate teachers about how the school district is going to assist these students.

Door Open to Working at Home

Posted on May 2, 2014, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

A recent decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has opened the door to the argument that an employer must provide a reasonable accommodation of allowing an employee to work from home instead of being at the office. In this decision, the Court of Appeals held that an employer cannot automatically require that actual presence at a physical site is an essential part of a job. The potential impact of this decision is enormous. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought an action against Ford Motor Company on behalf of an employee that suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The employee was responsible for addressing emergency situations when supplies were not available for the company or its manufacturers and was responsible for ensuring that supplies would be immediately provided to the manufacturer to ensure continued production of cars. The employee asked to work from home several days a week because of her medical condition, but Ford Motor Company took the position that she had to work at the office because physical presence was a requirement of the position and interacting with other employees in emergency situations was part of her job responsibilities. The Court of Appeals held that attendance was an essential function of the job in the past, but technology has changed over the years and an ever increasing number of employers and employees are utilizing work from home arrangements such that attendance at a workplace can no longer be assumed to be an actual requirement of the job. The Court found that Ford Motor Company did not meet its burden to prove that physical presence at a work site was an essential function of her work duties. This is an opening of the door to the notion that employers may be required to provide a reasonable accommodation of allowing somebody to work from home. In our new age of technology and telecommunications, employers will be required to show the absolute necessity for an employee to be at the workplace rather than on a computer screen interacting with other employees. Employers should start now by modifying their job descriptions to clearly indicate why it is necessary for an employee to be at the workplace and interacting with other employees.

Are Employer-Mandated Anger-Management Counseling Sessions Considered Compensable Time?

Posted on May 6, 2014, Authored by Ruder Ware Attorneys, Filed under Employment

Are employer-mandated anger-management counseling sessions considered compensable "hours worked" for purposes of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act? What if the employee attends anger-management counseling outside of his or her normal working hours? These questions came up recently during a roundtable meeting of an HR group of which I'm fortunate to be a part. Several participants speculated that employers are likely categorically required to pay employees attending anger-management counseling sessions, regardless of circumstances. Others speculated that if employer-mandated anger-management counseling sessions occur outside the employee's normal work hours on his or her own time no pay is required. All participants believed there is a judicial ruling that is pertinent but all wanted to double check before making any conclusive statements (myself included). The applicable case is Sehie v. City of Aurora, 432 F.3d 749 (7th Cir. 2005)[which covers employers located in Wisconsin]. In City of Aurora, the employer required one of its employees, as a condition of continued employment, to submit to weekly psychotherapy sessions with a mental health counselor of the employer's choosing in response to several "frictional" episodes with others on the job. The sessions were held outside of the employee's regularly scheduled working hours. The employee spent approximately one hour at each session, and two hours traveling back and forth by car to each session. Ultimately, the employee resigned, and sued her employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act, claiming that her employer should have paid her for the time she spent attending and commuting back and forth to the counseling sessions. The court first acknowledged that "the general rule is that an employee must be paid for all time spent in physical or mental exertion, whether burdensome or not, controlled and required by the employer, and pursued necessarily and primarily for the benefit of the employer or his business." This is true, stated the court, even if the hours "are spent in idleness." Here, the employer argued that the fact the counseling sessions were employer-mandated was inconsequential because "medical treatment always primarily and necessarily benefits the employee." The Court disagreed concluding the sessions were mandatory and were a condition of employment and were designed to enable the employee to perform her job duties and relate to co-workers more effectively and at a higher skill level. In other words, in this case, the Court concluded the counseling sessions primarily benefited the employer and was compensable time. Significantly, the Court held, "[b]y no means does our ruling mean that every time an employer gets help for its employees, the employee must be compensated for hours worked." So this means there is no categorical approach, and that employer-mandated anger-management sessions that occur outside an employee's regular work hours may, under the right circumstances, still be considered compensable time for which an employer must pay its employee for time spent attending and traveling to and from counseling.

E-Z Legal Form Results in Uneasy Post-Death Issues

Posted on May 1, 2014, Authored by Shanna N. Yonke,

Have you ever seen fill-in-the-blank wills online or in a bookstore? They are inexpensive and can be completed relatively quickly. Unfortunately, those forms are not personalized to meet your estate planning needs and they may lack provisions that are essential to disposing of your assets upon your death in accordance with your wishes. The Florida Supreme Court recently warned against using pre-printed wills. Ann Aldrich used an E-Z Legal Forms pre-printed will. She listed every asset that she owned at the time, and she named her sister to inherit all of the listed assets. She named her brother to inherit all of the listed assets if her sister was not living. The will did not address the disposition of assets Ann might own when she died that were not listed in the will. Ann's sister died, and Ann inherited land and cash from her sister. Ann prepared a codicil, which is an amendment to a will. In the codicil, Ann named her brother to inherit all of her assets, including all of the listed assets and any unlisted assets. However, the codicil was invalid because it was not properly signed. Ann died without making any other revisions to her will. All of the listed assets were distributed to her brother, but her brother and nieces argued over who should inherit the unlisted assets. The Florida Supreme Court said that the will did not dispose of the unlisted assets, and the codicil was not valid because it was not properly signed. Therefore, the default state laws applied to the unlisted assets. Those laws provide that her brother and nieces each were entitled to inherit a share of the unlisted assets. The court cautioned against using pre-printed wills and drafting legal documents without legal assistance, warning that doing so ultimately results in spending more money in sorting out the post-death legal issues than the cost of working with an estate planning attorney. There are two simple ways in which Ann could have avoided these post-death legal issues: (1) Ann's will should have included a residuary clause, which is a provision that disposes of all unlisted assets; and (2) Ann's codicil should have been properly signed. Many pre-printed wills do not include a residuary clause or caution you against making any changes without properly signing a codicil. An estate planning attorney can assist you in taking these simple steps to avoid any post-death legal issues. If you are interested in developing a customized estate plan that will dispose of all of your assets upon your death without creating post-death legal issues, please contact any of the attorneys in the Trusts & Estates Practice Group at Ruder Ware.

Search Results

Posted on May 5, 2014, Authored by ,

Search Results

Pray Before Local Government Meeting - Honor All Religions

Posted on May 9, 2014, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Local Governments and School Districts

The United States Supreme Court, in the recent decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway held that prayers before a town meeting delivered by a "chaplain of the month" did not violate the Establishment Clause and therefore were not prohibited from being used by a local township at the start of its meetings. The majority opinion, by a 5-4 vote found there was no violation of the First Amendment by holding that "ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define." This quote by Justice Kennedy frames the ruling by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also found that a local government unit may not discriminate against non-Christians when taking steps to select a "chaplain of the month" for reading at the local government meeting. In other words, the local government unit must honor all religions and acknowledge all religions when choosing someone to read a prayer at the start of a government meeting. It is important to recognize that the prayers at the Town of Greece public meetings were generally secular in nature; however, the Town leadership had made it clear that any type of faith or even atheists were welcome to give the opening prayer. Local government units now are able to continue the practice of opening their meetings with a prayer but government leaders must be careful they offer the opportunity to all types of religions to give the opening prayer.

Denying Unemployment Benefits is Starting to Work

Posted on May 9, 2014, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

The definition of misconduct under the Wisconsin Unemployment Compensation Law was changed as of the first of the year. We are now starting to see decisions under this new standard that limit employees from receiving unemployment benefits when being terminated from employment due to inappropriate conduct. For many years, an employer was not able to challenge the granting of unemployment benefits unless the employee was terminated for misconduct and then had to meet a very high threshold for proving misconduct occurred and benefits should be denied. The rules have changed and now employers at least have a fighting chance to seek the denial of unemployment benefits when terminating an employee that has taken action that harms the company. The standards an employer must meet to deny unemployment benefits are either that the employee committed "misconduct" or was terminated for "substantial fault" while performing work duties. The definition of misconduct now reads: "One or more actions or conduct evidencing such willful or wanton disregard of an employer's interests as is found in deliberate violations or disregard of standards of behavior which an employer has a right to expect of his or her employees, or in carelessness or negligence of such degree or recurrence as to manifest culpability, wrongful intent, or evil design of equal severity to such disregard, or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of an employer's interests, or of an employee's duties and obligations to his or her employer." The definition of substantial fault which is the new category that allows for denial of benefits is: "Includes those acts or omissions of an employee over which the employee exercised reasonable control and which violate reasonable requirements of the employee's employer." Substantial fault would not include (1) one or more minor infractions of rules unless the infraction is repeated after a warning; (2) one or more inadvertent errors made by the employee; or (3) any failure of the employee to perform work because of insufficient skill, ability, or equipment. Employers now have more flexibility when deciding whether or not to challenge the granting of unemployment benefits to an employee who is terminated from his/her employment with the company. Remember to check the definition to make sure the company is able to challenge the granting of unemployment benefits in those settings.

Safety First

Posted on May 6, 2014, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Local Governments and School Districts

This past April, Governor Walker signed over 100 bills into law. A number of the bills affect local government units. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we will be touching on those new laws to provide some guidance to municipalities on how business may change as a result of the new legislation. A number of the changes may require some additional discussion, so please feel free to contact us to learn more. As you may have guessed from the title of this blog post, the first bill, Assembly Bill 803, seeks to promote safe work environments for employers and employees performing work on a public works project. To do this, the bill extends a requirement that employers have in place and enforce a strict substance abuse program to all employees working on a public works project. It also requires employers to remove employees from the job site when the employee violates the substance abuse policy and to test the employee prior to return to the jobsite. Also, the bill extends the "move or slow down" law, which currently only applies to emergency vehicles, to vehicles working on a public works project. This requires drivers to abide by safer driving procedures when approaching vehicles working on a public works project. Municipalities need to be aware of these new requirements so that contracts can be reviewed before work is performed on public works projects.

Blogs

Posted on May 4, 2014, Authored by Linda M. Danielson, Amy E. Ebeling, Steven P. Lipowski, Joseph M. Mella, Robert J. Reinertson, Christopher M. Seelen, Russell W. Wilson,

BLOGS Recent Posts 99117538721, 79415373 Keep Up To Date  Get the RSS Feed The Blue Ink is a product of Ruder Ware, a full service law firm with locations in Eau Claire and Wausau, Wisconsin. With nearly 40 attorneys and over 90 years of experience in serving business owners and individuals, Ruder Ware has established itself as one of Wisconsins largest and most successful law firms. We guide our clients through intricate legal issues around the world and created The Blue Ink to demonstrate our firms commitment to meeting and exceeding the service demands of a constantly-evolving community of legal-service consumers in the Badger state and beyond.

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