Governor Walker Proposes Significant Change to Appeal Process for Employment-related Claims

In his budget address yesterday, Governor Scott Walker proposed eliminating the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC), which is the independent body that reviews decisions from administrative law judges at the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The proposal would change the appeal process for unemployment benefit claims, workers’ compensation claims and claims under Wisconsin’s Fair Employment Act. Under the proposal, appeals of unemployment and equal rights decisions would remain in the DWD and appeals of workers’ compensation claims would be handled by the Department of Administration.

According to the Governor’s budget documents, the proposal seeks to streamline the appellate process and expedite the time to a final decision for these types of claims. The Governor estimates that eliminating the Commission would save the state $3.2 million over the biennium.

LIRC and the DWD have recently found themselves at odds over the interpretation of various provisions of the unemployment insurance law.

It is hard to know at this early stage in the budget process how the Legislature will respond to this proposal because it would mark a dramatic change in the processing of unemployment, workers’ compensation and equal rights claims.

Clark & Gotzler will be following this proposal very closely because of its impact on all Wisconsin employers. As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions.