This week’s post of our employment law series will cover the complaint process of Wisconsin Fair Employment Law. There are several steps to take if you feel your employer has discriminated against you. The first is to file a complaint with the Equal Rights Division of the Department of Workforce Development. For a complaint to be valid, it must be filed within 300 days of the alleged discrimination. Settlement is sometimes a possibility and should seriously be considered when available especially since it can take one year or longer to resolve cases through the Equal Rights Division’s complaint process.
If you chose to file a complaint with the Equal Rights Division, the complaint is assigned to an Equal Rights officer for investigation. The investigator does not represent either party and cannot give any legal advice, but the investigator may ask the parties if they want to resolve the case through settlement. If the case is not settled, the investigating officer will submit a document indicating whether there is, or there is not, probable cause. If the officer does find probable cause, the case will go to a hearing. In the event of a hearing, the process is similar to that of court proceedings. The case is presented to an Administrative Law Judge who hears from the witnesses and reviews exhibits received during the hearing. All relevant evidence is presented at the hearing and the judge will issue a written decision following the hearing. The Administrative Law Judge can award damages, such as back pay, reinstatement, lost benefits, interest, and attorney’s fees and costs. An Administrative Law Judge cannot award humiliation, emotional pain or punitive damages. However, if a complainant has been discriminated against and feels that he or she is entitled to these types of damages, such an action can be filed in circuit court after the Administrative Law Judge’s decision is issued. Hiring an experienced Wisconsin employment law attorney can help to speed up the process, lower some stress, and ensure that you can receive all of the damages and recovery that you are entitled to.
Please share your comments below regarding any of your experiences you may have had within the WI employment law process.