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Searching for Articles published in October 2017.
Found 5 Results.

Public Construction Contracts - Changes

Posted on October 5, 2017, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich,

The Wisconsin Legislature is considering a new bill that would significantly change requirements for competitive bidding of public construction contracts by local government units and school districts.  Currently, school districts are not required to use the competitive bidding process although many school districts do follow that bidding process for its construction projects.  Local government units are required to follow a competitive bidding process for any public construction project that would exceed $25,000 in anticipated costs. Under the new legislation contained in Senate Bill 236, the threshold amount for local government units that must be considered for competitive bidding will be increased to $50,000.  Public construction projects (not service contracts) in excess of $50,000 would have to be awarded based upon the competitive bidding requirements.  Further, all school districts would be required to use a competitive bidding process for any public construction projects that would exceed $50,000 in estimated value.  This would be a mandatory requirement for school districts whereas school districts currently have the discretion to decide whether or not to use a competitive bidding process. The Bill is going through the public hearing process and will likely be voted on over the course of the next several days.  The Bill will then be referred to the entire Senate for consideration.

EEOC Sues for Transgender Discrimination

Posted on October 6, 2017, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

Recent action by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has raised the specter of whether transgender persons are considered protected under the federal discrimination laws.  The EEOC has sued a company in Denver that allegedly discriminated against a transgender man who applied for a position as manager.  This case addresses the question whether a transgender person is protected under federal sex discrimination laws. The company, A & E Tire, Inc., was sued by the EEOC alleging the company discriminated against a transgender man who applied for a manager position.  The person was essentially given the position subject to a background check.  During the background check, it was discovered the individual was born as a female but was presenting as a male.  The individual seemed very qualified for the manager job but when it was discovered the individual was actually born a female, the company withdrew the offer of employment and hired someone else. The EEOC is seeking an injunction that would require the company to hire this employee.  The case is moving through the federal court system in Colorado and will become a test case for interpreting federal discrimination laws.  The best practice right now is to avoid any type of employment decision based upon transgender status of an employee. Contrary to the position taken by the EEOC, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recently indicated that it is the position of the Department of Justice that transgender discrimination is not protected under federal laws.  There has been no reaction from the EEOC regarding this statement; however, it juxtaposes the Department of Justice against the EEOC as to whether or not transgender employees will receive the same protections as other employees under federal law.  We are certain to see more information about this in the future.

Dean Dietrich Receives 2017 George Tipler Award

Posted on October 25, 2017, Authored by ,

Ruder Ware is pleased to announce Attorney Dean Dietrich has received the prestigious George Tipler Award bestowed by the Wisconsin School Attorney Association (WSAA).  The award honors the efforts of former Wisconsin Association of School Board’s Executive Director George Tipler, who initiated the founding of the WSAA and was a long-serving advocate for the boys and girls of Wisconsin.  The award is presented annually at the WSAA membership meeting to an individual nominated by school officials or member attorneys and selected by the WSAA Board of Directors. For over 35 years, Dietrich has practiced in the areas of labor relations and employment law, representing public and private sector employers in the many aspects of employment law and labor relations.  Dietrich has worked with school districts his entire legal career.

Ruder Ware Exhibits At 2017 World Dairy Expo

Posted on October 20, 2017, Authored by Mike Wildeck, Filed under Ag-Visor

Ruder Ware was again one of nearly 900 commercial exhibits from 30 countries at the World Dairy Expo, held October 2-7 in Madison. While last year’s show attracted 74,572 visitors from 102 countries, our own unofficial parking lot comparison estimates an even larger crowd for 2017. The show includes the international shows for seven major dairy breeds, totaling more than 2,400 head of cattle. Each breed also has a sale, and at this year’s event a Holstein bull set a sale record of $620,000. Having said that, one may get the impression the dairy industry is doing just fine. In fact, just the opposite is true. Nearly all dairy farms rely primarily on farm milk sales to processors, and those prices are at historic lows. One producer from Marathon County shared with us that only a few years ago he was receiving $24-$25 per hundred pounds of milk. That price is now closer to $16….a 35% decrease! On his farm, nearly half of equity he built up since he started farming 8 years ago has been lost in the past year. Agriculture lenders also shared that negative cash flows have resulted in most of their dairy farm customers going on interest-only loan repayments for some period(s) in the past year. The shortage of labor from immigrant workers has also compounded a bad situation for dairy farms already in financial distress. Far less money is being spent by dairy producers these days on products and services that are not essential to keep the farm going, but most commercial exhibitors agree they need to market/exhibit in good times and in bad. Helping in the booth at this year’s Expo were Attorneys Linda Danielson, Matt Rowe, Amy Ebeling, Ashley Hawley, Bob Reinertson, and Chris Seelen, plus Agriculture Consultant Mike Wildeck.

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals – Super Human Resource Department?

Posted on October 9, 2017, Authored by Dean R. Dietrich, Filed under Employment

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (which addresses federal court cases brought in Wisconsin) has stated in the past that it does not intend to be a “super human resource department” for employers.  Recent court decisions have suggested that the Federal Court may be reconsidering that position.  There have been a number of employment law decisions in the Seventh Circuit that may significantly affect Wisconsin employers. In one decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit brought by a legal assistant against a Chicago-based law firm alleging that she was fired because of her age and discriminatory treatment based upon her age.  The lower court had determined that the claim by the legal assistant was not plausible and dismissed the complaint.  The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the claim finding that the employee had met the initial standard to show there was a basis for an age discrimination claim and directed the matter be heard in order to get facts surrounding the alleged discrimination complaint.  The case focused on the size of the law firm and the suggestion that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act did not apply to the small law firm.  The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals determined this type of defense was not appropriate at the initial stages of the case and reinstated a complaint to be considered by the lower court. In another decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found that a non-compete agreement signed by the former owner of a business was valid and binding upon the former owner, but also found that the former owner did not violate the non-compete agreement when the owner sold another business to a competitor and helped that competitor set up the business.  The case focused on whether or not the alternate business owned by the seller was a direct competitor of new owners of the business that was sold.  The Court found that the former owner who sold the distributor business was not directly competing with the business that was sold to the new owners and therefore the non-compete agreement did not apply to the actions of the seller relating to this second business.  The Court did uphold the non-compete agreement in a sale of business scenario, but then it narrowly interpreted the language of the non-compete agreement and did not enforce it as it related to competition with the new owners of the business. In a third decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has gone on record holding that the Americans with Disabilities Act (and the successor Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act) is not a leave extension law by finding that an employer was not automatically obligated to extend a leave of absence for an employee claiming a disability beyond the leave requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act.  In other words, the Court of Appeals said that an employee cannot rely upon a disability discrimination claim to obtain more leave time than the 12 weeks of leave authorized under FMLA law.  This is a ruling of first impression and has been subject to a great deal of scrutiny as employee advocates claim that an employer must consider a reasonable accommodation of additional time off if an employee is still in the healing phase of a disabling condition.  This decision also conflicts with rulings in other federal circuits and is not a definitive statement on what duties of reasonable accommodation will apply to an employee suffering from a disability.  It is, however, a first crack in the wall of decisions that support a duty of an employer to make accommodations for any employee that suffers from a disability. While several of these cases will be subject to further proceedings, it is clear that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is going to be involved in reviewing employer decisions on how to address employee conduct and employee claims of discrimination.