Bill Introduced to Standardize Employment Laws in Wisconsin

A bill to preempt local governments from enacting and enforcing ordinances related to a multitude of employment matters was introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature on November 16, 2017. The bill, LRB 4052 & 4827, proposes to standardize employment law across the state by prohibiting local governmental units from enacting their own employment law regulations.

A similar Wisconsin law that restricts local governmental units from enacting their own minimum wage regulations was signed by Governor Doyle several years ago. That law contained exemptions for employees of the local governmental unit and employees who perform work under a contract for services to the governmental unit. This bill would eliminate those exemptions and preempt local regulation of many other kinds of employment laws.

The bill sponsors, and the many employer groups and trade associations that support the bill, believe that employment matters are of statewide concern and therefore require uniform standards at the state level. Opponents, however, believe that the bill denies local governments the ability to provide greater protections against discrimination and/or benefits to their constituent workers.

If enacted, the law would proactively prevent some trends seen in other states from hitting Wisconsin. In California, for example, dozens of municipalities have recently enacted their own paid leave laws or “Ban the Box” regulations. Notably, the bill would impact some current county and municipal level ordinances that provide greater benefits and/or protection to workers than under state law.

Specifically, the bill proposes to:

  • Prohibit a local government body from mandating use Labor Peace Agreements;
  • Restrict local governments from imposing occupational licensing requirements that are more stringent than state requirements;
  • Prohibit local governments from establishing its own requirements for employee scheduling, hour and overtime regulations related to wage claims and collections;
  • Prohibit local governments from mandating specific benefits to employees of private companies within their municipal boundaries;
  • Protect an employer’s right to solicit information regarding the salary history of prospective employees;
  • Eliminate mandated pay scales for employers that contract with local governments;
  • Limit the ability of local governments to establish ordinances on wage claims and collection that differ from those established by the state; and

Prohibit local governments from establishing standards for employment discrimination that provide greater protection than that provided by state law.

Clark & Gotzler will watch this bill carefully to help our clients understand the potential implications it may have on employment-related practices and policies. Please contact Clark & Gotzler with any questions or concerns about this bill or its potential effect on your organization.