Janesville47°

Don't let yourself get worked over at work

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ANN MARIE AMES
April 30, 2009

Sure, times are tough.


But that doesn't change the laws.


The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has a list of labor standards, covering everything from break time to wages.


Here's what to do if you think your employer isn't obeying the rules, followed by a few of the state's labor laws.


Keep in mind that state laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who file complaints.


To file a complaint


You can use your computer or your phone to file a complaint.


n Online, visit www.dwd.wisconsin.gov. A list of labor standards can be found on the home page under the "Services available for workers" heading.


Under "labor standards" you will find a link to lots of online complaint applications for a variety of labor standards. The equal rights division is responsible for enforcing the standards.


n If you prefer the phone, call the Madison office at (608) 266-6860. The department's Web site lists lots of other phone numbers for the equal rights division. The phone book has listings in the business section under "Wisconsin."


When you call, an automated voice will offer prompts depending on types of complaints.


Or, you may dial "0" for help.


The Janesville Gazette reached a live operator on the first try.


Labor standards


Remember, these are just a few of the rules listed on the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Web site.


-- If you work for a business that employs 50 or more people, you must get written notice 60 days before the business closes or implements a mass layoff.


-- An employer may not deduct from wages earned by an employee, who is not an independent contractor, for defective workmanship, lost or stolen property or damage to property. Exceptions include: the employee authorizes the employer in writing to do so; the two sides agree the theft or damage was done intentionally; the employee is found guilty in court.


-- No employer may require any employee or applicant to pay the cost of a medical examination that's required as a condition of employment.


-- Manufacturing, mechanical and commercial establishments must provide seats for workers when they are not actively engaged in work duties.


-- A work permit is required before anyone younger than 18 is allowed to work in any job with the exception of agriculture or domestic service work.



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