Feb. 19, 2020 – Wisconsin’s arrest and conviction law governs what employers can and cannot do with respect to employment decisions, and define the rights of potential and current employees previously arrested or convicted of a crime.
“Very generally, Wisconsin prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of an arrest or conviction record, unless that arrest or conviction record is substantially related to the job that they are applying for, or the job that they hold if already employed,” said Warren Buliox, an employment lawyer at MWH Law Group LLP in Milwaukee.
At the 2019 Health, Labor & Employment Law Institute, Buliox dove into the details of what it means for a conviction to be “substantially related” to the job, such that an employer could legally deny or terminate employment.
Co-presenter Colin Good of Hawks Quindel S.C. in Madison, who represents employees, discussed how incarceration rates impact job prospects upon release, especially for persons of color, and how to protect rights against discrimination.
“When I’m counseling someone who is applying for a job, we want to ensure they are being truthful in their application, including any pertinent arrests or convictions, and that they are taking contemporaneous notes as to who the interviewers are,” he said.
In such cases where an applicant is qualified for a job and the arrest or conviction is not substantially related to the job, “oftentimes discrimination has occurred,” Good noted.
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