Under the bill, if the circuit court finds that a defendant has committed an act
of discrimination, the circuit court may award back pay and any other relief that
could have been awarded in an administrative proceeding. In addition, the circuit
court must order the defendant to pay to the individual discriminated against
compensatory and punitive damages that the circuit court finds appropriate, except
that the total amount of damage awarded for future economic losses and for pain and
suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other
noneconomic losses and punitive damages is subject to the following limitations:
1. If the defendant employs 100 or fewer employees, no more than $50,000.
2. If the defendant employs more than 100 but fewer than 201 employees, no
more than $100,000.
3. If the defendant employs more than 200 but fewer than 501 employees, no
more than $200,000.
4. If the defendant employs more than 500 employees, no more than $300,000.
The bill requires DWD to annually revise these amounts based upon the change
in the consumer price index in the previous year, if any positive change has occurred.
Under current fair employment law, an individual who alleges discrimination
in employment may file a complaint with DWD seeking action that will effectuate
the purpose of the fair employment law, including reinstating the employee,
providing back pay, and paying costs and attorney fees.
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
103.135 of the statutes is created to read:
2103.135 Compensation information of employees and prospective
3employees. (1) Unlawful employer conduct related to prospective employee
. (a) No employer may directly or indirectly do any of the 5
1. Subject to par. (b), solicit from a prospective employee or a prospective 7
employee's current or former employer information about the prospective employee's 8
current or prior compensation before making an offer of employment.
2. Require that a prospective employee's current or prior compensation meet 10
certain criteria in order for the prospective employee to be considered for 11
3. Refuse to hire or employ or otherwise discriminate against a prospective 13
employee in compensation or in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment 14
for opposing a practice prohibited under this paragraph, filing or indicating an intent 15
to file a complaint or otherwise attempting to enforce any right under this paragraph, 16
or testifying, assisting, or participating in any manner in any investigation, action, 17
or proceeding to enforce any right under this paragraph.
4. Subject to par. (b), notwithstanding the provisions of subch. II of ch. 230 19
regarding state civil service, rely on information obtained from any source regarding 20
a prospective employee's current or prior compensation when determining whether
to make an offer of employment, or setting compensation when making an offer of 2
employment to that prospective employee.
(b) After an employer has offered employment to a prospective employee and 4
the details of compensation have been agreed upon, the employer may obtain the 5
prospective employee's written consent for the employer to solicit information about, 6
or take action to confirm, the prospective employee's current or prior compensation.
7(2) Disclosure of compensation information by employees.
(a) An employee 8
may disclose the details of the employee's compensation to anyone and, subject to par. 9
(d), may discuss the compensation of other employees of the same employer and may 10
ask other employees of the same employer for details regarding their compensation.
(b) Except as provided in par. (d), no employer may interfere with, restrain, or 12
deny the exercise of the right of an employee to disclose, discuss, or inquire about 13
compensation as provided in par. (a).
(c) An employer may not discharge or discriminate against an employee in 15
promotion, in compensation, or in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment 16
for disclosing, discussing, or inquiring about compensation as provided in par. (a), 17
opposing a practice prohibited under par. (b), filing or indicating an intent to file a 18
complaint or otherwise attempting to enforce any right under par. (a), or testifying, 19
assisting, or participating in any manner in any investigation, action, or proceeding 20
to enforce any right under par. (a).
(d) Subject to s. 19.35, an employer may prohibit a human resources or payroll 22
employee, a supervisor, or any other employee whose job responsibilities require or 23
allow the employee access to other employees' compensation information from 24
disclosing information about any other employee's compensation without that 25
employee's prior written consent.
. Any employee or prospective employee who is refused 2
employment, terminated, discharged, or otherwise discriminated against in 3
violation of sub. (1) (a) or (2) (a) to (c) may do any of the following:
(a) File a complaint with the department, and the department shall process the 5
complaint in the same manner that employment discrimination complaints are 6
processed under s. 111.39. If the department finds that a violation has occurred, the 7
department may order the employer to take action to remedy the violation, including 8
reinstating the employee, providing compensation in lieu of reinstatement, 9
providing back pay accrued not more than 2 years before the complaint was filed, and 10
paying reasonable actual costs and, notwithstanding s. 814.04 (1), reasonable 11
attorney fees to the complainant.
(b) Bring an action in circuit court under sub. (4).
13(4) Civil action.
(a) Except as provided in this paragraph, the department or 14
an individual alleged or found to have been discriminated against under sub. (1) or 15
(2) may bring an action in circuit court requesting the relief described in par. (d) 16
against an employer that is alleged or found to have engaged in that discrimination. 17
The department or an individual alleged or found to have been discriminated against 18
may not bring an action under this paragraph against a local governmental unit, as 19
defined in s. 19.42 (7u), or against an employer that employs fewer than 15 20
individuals for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current 21
or preceding year.
(b) If a petition for judicial review of the findings and order of the department 23
concerning the same violation as the violation giving rise to the action under par. (a) 24
is filed, the circuit court shall consolidate the proceeding for judicial review and the 25
action under par. (a).
(c) An individual alleged or found to have been discriminated against under 2
sub. (1) or (2) is not required to file a complaint under sub. (3) (a) or seek review under 3
s. 111.395 in order for the department or the individual to bring an action under par. 4
(d) Subject to pars. (e) and (f), in an action under par. (a), if the circuit court finds 6
that discrimination has occurred, or if such a finding has been made by an examiner 7
and not been further appealed, the circuit court may order any relief that an 8
examiner would be empowered to order under s. 111.39 (4) (c) after a hearing on a 9
complaint filed under s. 111.39. In addition, the circuit court shall order the 10
defendant to pay to the individual discriminated against any other compensatory 11
damages, and punitive damages under s. 895.043 that the circuit court or jury finds 12
appropriate, plus reasonable costs and attorney fees incurred in the action. If any 13
relief was ordered under sub. (3) (a) or s. 111.395, the circuit court shall specify 14
whether the relief ordered under this paragraph is in addition to or replaces the relief 15
ordered under sub. (3) (a) or s. 111.395. The sum of the amount of compensatory 16
damages for future economic losses and for pain and suffering, emotional distress, 17
mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other noneconomic losses and the 18
amount of punitive damages that a circuit court may order may not exceed the 19
1. In the case of a defendant that employs 100 or fewer employees for each 21
working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year, 22
2. In the case of a defendant that employs more than 100 but fewer than 201 24
employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current 25
or preceding year, $100,000.
3. In the case of a defendant that employs more than 200 but fewer than 501 2
employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current 3
or preceding year, $200,000.
4. In the case of a defendant that employs more than 500 employees for each 5
working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year, 6
(e) If the circuit court orders a payment under par. (a) because of a violation of 8
sub. (1) or (2) by an individual employed by an employer, the employer of that 9
individual is liable for the payment.
(f) 1. In this paragraph, “consumer price index" means the average of the 11
consumer price index for all urban consumers, U.S. city average, as determined by 12
the bureau of labor statistics of the federal department of labor.
2. Except as provided in this subdivision, beginning on July 1, 2021, and on 14
each July 1 after that, the department shall adjust the amounts specified in par. (a) 15
1., 2., 3., and 4. by calculating the percentage difference between the consumer price 16
index for the 12-month period ending on December 31 of the preceding year and the 17
consumer price index for the 12-month period ending on December 31 of the year 18
before the preceding year and adjusting those amounts by that percentage 19
difference. The department shall publish the adjusted amounts calculated under 20
this subdivision in the Wisconsin Administrative Register, and the adjusted amounts 21
shall apply to actions commenced under sub. (1) (a) beginning on July 1 of the year 22
of publication. This subdivision does not apply if the consumer price index for the 23
12-month period ending on December 31 of the preceding year did not increase over 24
the consumer price index for the 12-month period ending on December 31 of the year 25
before the preceding year.
1(5) Notice posted
. (a) Each employer shall provide notice to employees and 2
prospective employees of their rights under this section by doing all of the following:
1. Posting, in one or more conspicuous places where notices to employees are 4
customarily posted, a notice in a form approved by the department setting forth 5
employees' and prospective employees' rights under this section.
2. Including, on each listing for a job vacancy or other employment opportunity 7
that is advertised by electronic mail, posting on an Internet site, or other electronic 8
means, a notice that includes all of the following information:
a. A statement that the employer is prohibited from relying on a prospective 10
employee's current or former compensation when determining whether to make an 11
offer of employment or setting compensation or when making an offer of 12
b. A statement that the employer is prohibited from asking about a prospective 14
employee's compensation until after the employer has offered the prospective 15
employee employment and they have agreed upon the details of compensation.
c. A statement that the employer is prohibited from requiring that a 17
prospective employee's current or prior compensation meet certain criteria in order 18
for the prospective employee to be considered for employment.
d. Information, or a hyperlink to information, regarding prohibited bases of 20
discrimination under subch. II of ch. 111.
(b) Any employer that violates par. (a) shall forfeit not more than $100 for each 22
103.36 of the statutes is repealed.
111.322 (2m) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) The individual files a complaint or attempts to enforce any 2
right under s. 103.02, 103.10, 103.11, 103.13, 103.135,
103.28, 103.32, 103.34, 3
103.455, 104.12, 109.03, 109.07, 109.075, 146.997, or 995.55, or ss. 101.58 to 101.599 4
or 103.64 to 103.82.
111.322 (2m) (b) of the statutes is amended to read:
(b) The individual testifies or assists in any action or proceeding 7
held under or to enforce any right under s. 103.02, 103.10, 103.11, 103.13, 103.135, 8
103.28, 103.32, 103.34, 103.455, 104.12, 109.03, 109.07, 109.075, 146.997, or 995.55, 9
or ss. 101.58 to 101.599 or 103.64 to 103.82.
814.04 (intro.) of the statutes is amended to read:
11814.04 Items of costs.
(intro.) Except as provided in ss. 93.20, 100.195 (5m) 12
(b), 100.30 (5m), 103.135 (4) (d),
106.50 (6) (i) and (6m) (a), 115.80 (9), 767.553 (4) (d), 13
769.313, 802.05, 814.245, 895.035 (4), 895.044, 895.443 (3), 895.444 (2), 895.445 (3), 14
895.446 (3), 895.506, 943.212 (2) (b), 943.245 (2) (d), 943.51 (2) (b), and 995.10 (3), 15
when allowed costs shall be as follows:
(1) Employment discrimination damages.
This act first applies to acts of 18
employment discrimination under s. 103.135 committed on the effective date of this 19
(2) Collective bargaining agreement.
This act first applies to an employee 21
who is affected by a collective bargaining agreement that contains provisions 22
inconsistent with this act on the day on which the collective bargaining agreement 23
expires or is extended, modified, or renewed, whichever occurs first.
This act takes effect on the first day of the 6th month beginning after 2