Remedies at a Glance - Housing and Public Accommodations Law

Equal Rights Publication ERD-11057-P

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The links (bookmarks) in the Table of Contents take you to that section in this Publication.
The links in the Text take you to either a page in our website, a section in the Wisconsin Statutes or a section in the Wisconsin Administrative Code.

Table of Content

  1. Introduction
  2. Housing Remedies
  3. Wisconsin Open Housing Law Notes:
  4. Federal Law Notes:
  5. Public Accommodations Remedies
  6. Public Accommodations Law Notes:
  7. Enforcement:
  8. Remedies:
  9. For more information contact us at:

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.

Individuals who desire more information about state law 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 housing law may contact the U.S. Department of Housing Development at (414) 297-3214, ext. 8301.

Housing Remedies

The following remedies are available from both the Wisconsin Open Housing Law and the U.S. Fair Housing Act.

Punitive Damages are available in court under the Wisconsin Law and available under the Federal Act

Wisconsin Open Housing Law Notes:

The Wisconsin Open Housing Law is at section 106.50, Wisconsin Statutes (formerly section 101.22, Wisconsin Statutes.) and covers the following protected classes: sex, race. color, sexual orientation, disability, religion, national origin, marital status, family status, lawful source of income, age or ancestry.

The law may be enforced either by filing a complaint with the Equal Rights Division and going through the administrative hearing process or a civil action may be filed directly in court. All of the above-listed remedies except for punitive damages may be awarded through an administrative hearing (punitive damages are only Available in a court proceeding).

The item “Other Remedies” on the chart includes such remedies as cease and desist orders, requiring a housing provider to furnish appropriate training and so on.

Federal Law Notes:

The U.S. Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. sec. 3601, et seq., prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status and national origin. The federal law may also be enforced administratively through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or by a civil action in court.

Public Accommodations Remedies

Public Accommodations Law Notes:

The Wisconsin “Public Accommodations and Amusements Law” is at section 106.52, Wisconsin Statutes and covers the following protected classes: sex, race, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry. There are also some provisions, which prohibit age discrimination.


An individual may file a claim with the Equal Rights Division and seek administrative enforcement. After hearing, a decision may be appealed to the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC). A LIRC decision may be appealed to court, but the court will hold a new trial, a jury trial can also be requested. This procedure differs, for example, from the procedure in fair employment cases under sec. 111.31, et seq. Wisconsin Statutes where the appeal of a LIRC decision is reviewed by the court, but does not result in a new trial.

It is also possible to file a civil action directly in court.


Remedies available in a civil action include, but may not necessarily be limited to, damages, including punitive damages, court costs and reasonable attorney fees. Fines may also be imposed.

At the administrative level, if a violation is found, an order shall be issued, for “such action by the Respondent as will effectuate the purpose of (3) and this subsection.” [See section 106.52(4)(a)4, Wisconsin Statutes]. There is little case law in this area. Since any dissatisfied party could ultimately appeal a decision by an Administrative Law Judge (after review by LIRC) to court, where a new trial would be granted (which includes a right to trial by jury). There may be an argument that, except for punitive damages, the administrative remedies awardable should be identical to those Available in court.

However, at this time the scope of administrative remedies is not entirely settled, but would likely include at least out-of-pocket expenses, reasonable costs and attorney fees, cease and desist orders, appropriate training and other “make-whole” type remedies, and fines.

For more information contact us at:


PO BOX 8928

Telephone Number: (608) 266-6860
TTY Number: (608) 264-8752


819 N 6th ST
ROOM 723

Telephone Number: (414) 227-4384
TTY Number: (414) 227-4081

Equal Rights Division Web Site

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