State bill aims to exempt convictions from labor law

Two state lawmakers want to grant employers an extra safeguard when it comes to hiring and firing decisions. State representatives Carol Kelso of Green Bay and Scott Walker of Wauwatosa said they’ll re-introduce legislation which would allow employers to consider conviction records when deciding whether to hire, promote or terminate workers.
State law essentially prohibits employers from considering conviction records unless the offenses in question “substantially relate to the circumstances of a particular job.”
Kelso and Walker renewed their push for the change after a much-publicized case in the Milwaukee Public Schools in which the school district was ordered to re-hire a convicted felon as a boiler room attendant.
The order came from the state Labor and Industry Review Panel.
Kelso called the situation an example of “the absurdity of the current law.”
The man in question had been convicted of burning a child with hot grease.
Walker, echoing school district officials’ comments, wondered why working with chemicals around children would not meet the state’s discrimination standard. But he said the case simply points out a larger problem – the law’s failure to recognize past behavior as a legitimate employment concern.

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Dr. Daniel A. Schroeder is President/CEO of Organization Development Consultants, Inc. (ODC). ODC serves regional and national clients from its offices in suburban Milwaukee. Additionally, he teaches in the Organizational Behavior and Leadership (bachelor’s) and Organization Development (master’s) programs at Edgewood College (Madison, WI), programs that he founded and for which he served as Program Director.

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