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Discipline and termination

State procedures Are there state-specific laws on the procedures employers must follow with regard to discipline and grievance procedures? No state-specific laws applicable to private sector employers exist.

At-will or notice At-will status and/or notice period? Unless the employment relationship is otherwise governed by an employment contract, employees in Wisconsin are at will and can be terminated at any time without notice or without cause, as long as the termination is not otherwise unlawful.

What restrictions apply to the above? There are no direct restrictions on the at-will doctrine; however, Wisconsin generally prohibits employers from discharging employees because:

  • of membership in a protected class or because they have engaged in a statutorily protected activity;
  • they have filed or reported a complaint regarding a health or safety violation in the workplace; or
  • they have refused to perform an act that violates a clear mandate of public policy.

Final paychecks Are there state-specific rules on when final paychecks are due after termination? Involuntary or voluntary terminations are treated the same. Payment in full is due no later than the employee's regular payday or the date of payment, unless payment is required earlier by the state wage payment law (Wis. Stat. § 109.03(2)). Sales agents employed on a commission basis are exempt from this requirement.

If an employee is separated from the payroll of an employer as a result of the employer merging, liquidating or otherwise disposing of the business, ceasing business operations in whole or in part, or relocating all or part of the business to another area within or out of the state, the employer, or the successors in interest of the employer, are required to pay all unpaid wages to the employee at the usual place of payment within 24 hours of the time of separation.

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