Fair Employment Law & Family Medical Leave Act Remedies at a Glance

This page was formerly ERD-11055-P

This document is for general informational purposes only, is subject to change and is not to be considered legal advice. Individuals who wish to obtain legal advice in a particular matter should consult an attorney. Also, individuals who desire more information about the state laws may contact the Equal Rights Division of the State of Wisconsin at (608) 266-6860 in Madison or (414) 227-4384 in Milwaukee. Individuals who desire more information about the federal fair employment laws referenced should contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at (414) 297-1112. Persons seeking more information on the federal Family & Medical Leave Act may call the Wage & Hour Division of the U.S. Labor Department at (608) 264-5221.

Fair Employment Remedies

WFEA Section 111.31 et seq. of the Wisconsin Statutes is referred to as the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act.
Title VII 42 U.S.C. sections 2000e, et seq. is referred to as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
ADA 42 U.S.C. sections 12101, et seq. is referred to as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
ADEA 29 U.S.C. sections 621, et seq. is referred to as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
EPA 29 U.S.C. sections 206 (d), et seq. is referred to as the Equal Pay Act. (It is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. section 201, et seq.)
y = available; n = not available
Wisconsin Federal
WFEA Title VII ADA ADEA EPA
Backpay y y y y y
Front Pay (a) y y y (b)
Interest y y y y y
Reinstatement y y y y (b)
Attorney Fees and Costs y y y y y
Compensatory Damages for Emotional Harm (c) y y n (b)
Punitive Damages (c) y y n n
Liquidated Damages n n n y y
Other Remedies y y y y y

(a) Front pay instead of reinstatement can be awarded under the WFEA in retaliation cases brought under sec. 111.322 (2m), Wis. Stats. Whether front pay instead of reinstatement can be awarded for retaliation claims under section 111.322 (3), Wisconsin Statutes and/or for other.Discrimination claims under the WFEA is not yet settled by case law.

(b) Claims under the federal EPA (Equal Pay Act) ordinarily involve a wage differential. However, the EPA also has a retaliation prohibition, and reinstatement or front pay are possible remedies for unlawful retaliation where a discharge is involved.

(c) Compensatory and punitive damages may be awarded by a circuit court if an ALJ finds that a complainant has been unlawfully discriminated against or if LIRC affirms a finding of discrimination. A complainant must file a separate action in circuit court to obtain these types of damages after the administrative proceedings have been concluded.

“Liquidated Damages” on the chart generally refers to a doubling of the compensation that the person would otherwise be entitled to under the ADEA or the EPA. Even if a person establishes a violation of the ADEA, the person is not automatically entitled to the liquidated damages (or doubling) unless a certain additional standard of proof is met. Under the EPA, even if a person has established a violation, the employer may avoid the liquidated damages if it can present the required “good-faith” defense.

"Other Remedies" on the chart includes such remedies as cease and desist orders, and requiring an employer to provide training to supervisors or employees.

Compensatory Damages” and “Punitive Damages” are generally subject to caps (for the combined total of the compensatory and punitive damages) based on employer size as follows:

Number of Employees Cap
15-100 $50,000
101-200 $100,000
201-500 $200,000
501 or more $300,000

Note: There is no cap for race discrimination cases (or national origin discrimination cases if the national origin claim involves ancestry or ethnic characteristics) which are brought under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1981.

y = available; n = not available
Wisconsin Federal
WFEA Title VII ADA ADEA EPA
Protected Classes age, race, creed, color, disability, marital status, sex, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, arrest record, conviction record, military service, use or nonuse of lawful products off the employer’s premises during non working hours race, color, sex, religion, national origin disability age sex
Administrative Hearing (appeal to Labor and Industry Review Commission and then to court) y n n n n
Court Hearing (federal claims may be filed in federal or state court) appeal to circuit court y y y y
Jury Trial n y y y y
Class Action n y y y y
Number of Employees no minimum 15 or more 15 or more 20 or more no minimum

For details on damages under federal law, see EEOC's Website

Special Note: Individuals with complaints against federal agencies regarding employment discrimination may contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at (414) 297-1111 regarding applicable procedures.

Family Medical Leave Act Remedies

Wisconsin Law

The Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Law is found at section 103.10, Wisconsin Statutes. It covers employers with fifty or more employees. The law is enforced administratively through the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division. In addition to those remedies for which a “y” is shown in the chart below, a separate civil court action may be brought after the administrative proceeding (including any court appeals), has been completed to recover other damages caused by a violation of the state law.

Federal Law

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act is found at 29 U.S.C. sections 2611, et seq. It covers employers with 50 or more employees. A complaint may be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor and a civil court action may also be filed. In addition to individual complaints, a class action may be filed.

y = available; n = not available
Wisconsin Federal
Backpay y y
Reinstatement y y
Interest y y
Attorney Fees and Costs y y
Liquidated Damages n y
Other Damages Possibly in Court n
Other Remedies y y

Liquidated Damages” on the chart generally refers to a doubling of the compensation that the person would otherwise be entitled to under the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act. If a person establishes a violation of the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act, the employer may avoid liquidated damages if it can present the required “good faith” defense.

"Other Remedies" on the chart includes such remedies as cease and desist orders, and requiring an employer to provide training to supervisors or other employees.

Questions about employment discrimination should be directed to the Department of Workforce Development Equal Rights Division.

To visit our offices:

Madison Office
201 E Washington Ave; Room A100
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-266-6860 - 608-264-8752 (TTY)

Milwaukee Office
819 N. 6th St; Room 723
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Phone: 414-227-4384 - 414-227-4081 (TTY)



Our mailing addresses:

Madison Office
PO Box 8928
Madison, WI 53708-8928
Phone: 608-266-6860 - 608-264-8752 (TTY)

Milwaukee Office
PO Box 7997
Madison, WI 53707-7997
Phone: 414-227-4384 - 414-227-4081 (TTY)



Office Hours: Monday - Friday 7:45 am - 4:30 pm

The Department of Workforce Development is an equal opportunity service provider. If you have a disability and/or have a labor standards or civil rights question and need this information in an alternate format, or need it translated to another language, please contact us at the above numbers.

DWD es un empleador y proveedor de servicios que ofrece igualdad de oportunidades. Si tiene una discapacidad y necesita ayuda con esta información, marque 7-1-1 para comunicarse con el Wisconsin Relay Service (Servicio de Retransmisión de Wisconsin). Comuníquese con la División de Derechos Iguales al (608) 264-8752 para pedir información en un formato alternativo, incluida la traducción a otro idioma.

DWD yog ib tus tswv hauj lwm thiab muab kev pab muaj vaj huam sib luag rau sawv daws. Yog koj muaj ib tus mob xiam oob qhab tsis taus thiab xav tau kev pab rau daim ntawv no, thov hu rau 7-1-1 rau Wisconsin Relay Service. Thov hu rau Fab Saib Xyuas Kev Muaj Cai Sib Txig ntawm (608) 264-8752 mus thov kom muab daim ntawv no kho ua lwm hom kom koj nyeem tau, nrog rau qhov kom muab txhais ua lwm hom lus.

Email DWD DWD Photo Gallery DWD on Twitter DWD on Facebook DWD on YouTube DWD on LinkedIn DWD RSS Feed

A proud partner of the network