Retaliation related to discrimination complaints
An employer may not fire, demote, harass, or otherwise "retaliate" against an individual for
- filing a charge of discrimination,
- participating in a discrimination proceeding, or
- otherwise opposing discrimination.
"Participating in a discrimination proceeding" means testifying or assisting in any investigation or hearing related to discrimination under the Fair Employment Law.
"Opposing discrimination" means any actions that an employee takes on their own to protest discrimination under the Fair Employment Law.
The same laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability, as well as wage differences between men and women performing substantially equal work, also prohibit retaliation against individuals who oppose unlawful discrimination or participate in an employment discrimination proceeding.
If you believe that your employer has retaliated against you for engaging in any of the above protected activities, you can submit a discrimination complaint form to our office.
Retaliation related to Labor Standards complaints
The Equal Rights Division also enforces Wisconsin laws related to Labor Standards. The Fair Employment Law makes it unlawful for an employer to retaliate because you attempted to enforce any right or because of its belief that you attempted to formally enforce any right under other laws enforced by the Division, including (but not limited to) laws related to the payment of wages and overtime, family medical leave, and access to personnel records. If you want to review a full list of retaliation laws enforced or believe you have been retaliated against you can submit a retaliation complaint form to our office.
Other retaliation provisions enforced by the ERD
In addition to the retaliation claims covered above, the ERD enforces laws that protect employees that make certain legally protected reports. These laws, sometimes known as "whistleblower" laws, are limited to employees in certain situations.
State of Wisconsin workers under the "Whistleblower Law" (Wis. Stat. § 230.80) are protected when they report violations of law, rules, and regulations and if they report mismanagement or abuse of authority. However, to obtain protection under this law, the employee needs to first report either in writing to the employee's supervisor, or in writing to the appropriate governmental unit.
The Health Care Worker Protection Law (Wis. Stat. § 146.997) prohibits retaliation against health care workers who report violations of law, rules, regulations, clinical or ethical standards, or risks to public health and safety in a health care facility.
The ERD also enforces several other anti-retaliation laws, including:
- Reporting fraud by a recipient of Public Assistance
- Reporting under the Elder Abuse Law
- Reporting under the Public Employee Health and Safety Law
- Reporting violations of Employee Right to Know About Toxic Chemicals in the Workplace Law