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Madison Civil Litigation Blog

Is your workplace policy on religious accommodations in compliance with the law?

Workplace discrimination is an important area for employer to carefully address, both by establishing sound policies to remain in compliance with state and federal law and to address legal liabilities should they arise. The types of a discrimination issues an employer has to address can vary depending on the demographics of the work force.

One of the issues an increasing number of employers hare having to address is prayer breaks for Muslim-American workers. Because practicing Muslims are required to pray five times per day, they often have to request workplace accommodations to fulfill their religious obligations. 

Sorting out liability for construction delays: work with experienced attorney, P.2

In our last post, we began looking at the topic of construction delays, particularly the potential costs they can have on those participating in a construction project and the potential difficulties of sorting out who is liable when a delay occurs.

As we mentioned last time, concurrent delays can be particularly complicated, since they involve two independent causes of delay and sorting out responsibility for the resulting costs can be difficult. In some cases, concurrent delays can raise the issue of float or slack time ownership. Float time is time built into a construction contract to give contractors wiggle room to complete the various phases of the project without causing an overall delay. Significant costs aren’t typically incurred unless there is an overall project delay, so it usually isn’t until float time is used up that significant costs are incurred. 

Sorting out liability for construction delays: work with experienced attorney, P.1

Previously, we mentioned the importance of homeowners taking precautions to protect themselves when working with contractors on a project. One of the important precautions homeowners and property owners should take is to ensure the agreement they enter into specifies clear completion dates and remedies for resolving disputes over liability for construction delays.

Construction projects can be complicated and delays can happen. It doesn’t have to be an issue, if the project schedule is set up properly and there is good communication between all the parties involved. When confusions arise, though, or when mistakes are made, delays can have a significant impact on the project timeline and can result in significant losses or additional costs. 

Here's why you need to know the Fair Labor Standards Act

Fair wages are important to you, but they're also important to those around you. When you're not being paid fairly, you can assume that others aren't, either. When it comes to getting the correct wages, it's your employer's responsibility to follow the law. If he or she doesn't and violates your rights, you can take legal action.

If you're worried you aren't getting paid overtime correctly, you need to know more about the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Your employer must fall under the Fair Labor Standards Act for the following to apply. The FLSA applies primarily to those paid less than $23,600 yearly, those who are nonsalaried and those who are not involved in management activities. You must also not be in a position that is exempt from overtime pay to qualify under the FLSA. Those in this position are typically entitled to overtime pay.

Wisconsin homebuilder plagued by numerous mechanics’s lien filings

Building a home is a significant undertaking and it is important to enter into the process with a solid plan and clear expectations of all the parties involved in the construction process. Good communication is essential to ensure the property owner, the general contract, subcontractors, suppliers, architects, and other involved parties are on the same page.

When it comes to contractors, quality and integrity are critical. Contractors that don’t perform quality work usually carry their reputation around with them. An example of this is the case of Wisconsin home construction company Felicity Homes LLC, which is the subject of over 50 filings in Wisconsin Circuit Court over unsatisfied mechanic’ liens for unfinished work. The value of those liens, filed in less than two years’ time, is over $210,000. 

Looking at state, federal trade secret protection law, P.2

Last time, we looked very briefly at some aspects of Wisconsin’s trade secret law. As we noted, trade secret protection is available not only at the state level, but also through the federal courts. Last year, Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act, which created a federal cause of action for the protection of trade secrets. Prior to that, the only way to pursue trade secret protection in federal court was to qualify under special jurisdictional rules.

Under the Federal Trade Secrets Act, there are many similarities to state trade secret protection laws, but there are some differences and new features as well. One of these is that the federal law does not make use of the inevitable disclosure doctrine, under which an employer is able to prevent a former employee from working in a job in which he or she could make use of trade secrets without any evidence of threatened misappropriation. This means it may be harder under federal law for employers to forestall the spread of stolen trade secrets. 

Looking at state, federal trade secret protection law

For businesses, protecting valuable business information is important in order to ensure competitors are not allowed to unjustly benefit from the business’ innovation and hard work. There are a variety of tools businesses can use to protect valuable information from competitors. Some of these protections are more formal, such as restrictive covenants and intellectual property protections like patents. Some of the available protections are less formal, like trade secrets.

A trade secret is any valuable information a business attempts to keep hidden from public view in order to benefit from that information. Trade secrets are informal in that there is no formal process required to create them; they are created by virtue of being valuable to the business and by the business’ efforts to keep them private. 

When can I file a private discrimination lawsuit against an employer?

Workplace discrimination is usually a distressing occurrence for those exposed to it, particularly if the discrimination is followed up by retaliation against those who speak out or take action to stop it. One of the big questions these employees have is: how can I hold my employer accountable for allowing discrimination to occur?

Strong protections against illegal discrimination exist under both federal and state law, but many people aren’t exactly aware of what rights they have in terms of taking action against an employer when discrimination occurs. One important point to understand is that an employee’s ability to sue an employer for discrimination is limited, at least initially. 

Negotiating severance agreements: work with experienced legal advocate

In our previous post, we looked briefly at the importance of carefully approaching the negotiation of executive compensation. For employees, this is important to ensure fair compensation and appropriate job security, while for business, there is both the need to attract and retain high quality employees, and the need to balance financial limitations and manage risks.

The flip side of negotiating executive compensation is negotiating severance agreements. As with compensation agreements, employers and employees have their own set of concerns, and it is important for both to work with an experienced attorney to ensure their interests are represented in the final agreement. 

Work with experienced advocate when negotiating executive compensation

Fair compensation is a high priority for anybody, in any profession. It is especially important for those employed in executive positions that require a high-level of expertise, time commitment, and personal responsibility. Those who are in a spot that allows them to consider employment offers for such positions understand the importance of negotiation, but may not know how to best approach to negotiating their own compensation agreements.

When it comes to compensation, salary is certainly an important piece of the picture, but it is only one piece. Those considering executive level positions should know, first of all, their current compensation situation, not only with respect to their base salary, but also with respect to bonuses, stock options, and any other benefits they are receiving. Understanding and clearly presenting these benefits is important to be able to compare and negotiate compensation for the desired position.