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Protest March Planned for Monday, February 13, Could Affect Employers

A “Day Without Latinos, Immigrants, and Refugees” march is planned for Monday, February 13, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The march, organized by Voces de la Frontera, is in protest of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s plan to participate in a federal program that allows local law enforcement to perform some of the same duties as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, including duties related to identifying, processing, and detaining undocumented immigrants.

March organizers plan to provide busing for individuals who wish to participate in Monday’s event. Buses have been confirmed for the Racine, Waukesha, and Madison areas to transport individuals to Milwaukee, and buses are also planned for the Appleton and Green Bay areas. A similar protest occurred in opposition to two legislative bills related to immigration issues last year in Madison, drawing approximately 20,000 protestors.

While Monday’s march is not anticipated to be as large as the protest in Madison last year, it could be large enough that employers will feel impacted. Employers are encouraged to consider how their staffing needs may be impacted by Monday’s march.

Marches and other protest events can spark disputes and litigation between employees who leave or miss work to attend the marches and employers seeking to enforce attendance and other policies. There is no “one-size fits all” approach to the variety of issues associated with employee involvement in immigration marches or protests. We urge employers to review their existing policies, consult with legal counsel about their rights and responsibilities, and map out a common sense approach consistent with their workplace culture.

Employers should address employee time-off requests in a manner consistent with their employee handbooks, other unpaid and paid leave and attendance policies, and labor agreements (if applicable). Any communication to employees should be carefully considered, professional, and free from any bias that could invite claims under state or federal discrimination laws or violate any labor agreements. Be careful to avoid any retaliation against employees who may be engaged in “protected concerted activity.” Any disciplinary action should be carefully considered with the input of experienced legal counsel.

©2019 MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH LLP

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About this Author

Kelly M. Fortier, Michael Best Law Firm, Business immigration, Attorney
Partner

Kelly helps employers of all sizes meet their staffing needs by handling the immigration issues they face in hiring foreign nationals and moving employees around the globe.

A partner in the firm’s Labor and Employment Relations practice group and Co-chair of the Immigration and International Migration team, she handles compliance issues for corporations that transfer dozens of employees into and out of the United States each year as well as small companies seeking to bring in a few key hires from abroad.

Kelly is highly...

414-277-3460
Elizabeth N. Larson, Michael Best, Employment Discrimination Lawyer, Affirmative Action Compliance Attorney
Associate

Elizabeth focuses on employment discrimination, affirmative action, and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) matters. Clients value her responsiveness, as well as her attention to detail, in these areas. They also look to her for support with trade secret and non-compete litigation.

Elizabeth previously served as a law clerk for MillerCoors where she researched a variety of legal matters including wage garnishments, disability discrimination, immigration law, alcohol and beverage law, privacy, and intellectual property. She also worked as a student practitioner at the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, where she conducted a full criminal trial as first-chair lawyer.

414-225-8295
Robert Mulcahy, Michael Best Law Firm, Private and Public Sector Labor and Employment Attorney
Partner

Rob is a skilled negotiator whose practice includes both public and private sector management labor and employment law. His work includes National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) proceedings, collective bargaining, contract administration and arbitration proceedings.

Rob also has extensive experience working on employment discrimination matters and wage and hour claims. He helps clients tackle tough issues, including:

  • Union elections and right to work

  • Severance agreements...

414-225-2761
Charles Palmer, Michael Best Law Firm, Employment Law Litigation Attorney
Managing Partner

Chuck is a go-to lawyer for complex cases involving employment law, including independent contractor and joint employment matters. Clients rely on his years of experience in dealing with state and federal enforcement agencies to develop human resource, safety and environmental policies and practices that prevent problems and save them significant expense.

Chuck has defended employers in more than 1,000 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) citation cases over the past 26 years, including multiple six-figure and/or fatality...

262-956-6518