Harassment or Unwelcome Conduct

Harassment is an unwanted, unwelcome and deliberate conduct or action directed towards an individual for his/her race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national origin, age (40+), disability, sex, arrest or conviction record, political affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation, membership in the Armed Forces. It is prohibited by state and federal law.

All agencies within Wisconsin State Government have policies which prohibit harassment and unwelcome conduct. Employees should notify their supervisor or may contact their human resources office directly for assistance at any time.  The Bureau of Equity & Inclusion is also available for assistance as needed. 

Sexual Harassment

Several important definitions were created in 1981 Senate Bill 204, s.111.32(13), Wis. Stats.:

“Sexual harassment" means unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature or unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

“Sexual harassment" includes conduct directed by a person at another person of the same or opposite gender.

“Unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature" includes but is not limited to the deliberate, repeated making of unsolicited gestures or comments of a sexual nature; the deliberate, repeated display of offensive sexually graphic materials which is not necessary for business purposes; or deliberate verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, whether or not repeated, that is sufficiently severe to interfere substantially with an employee's work performance or to create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

​Fair Employment Law

Employment discrimination is prohibited by federal and state law, s.111.31-111.985, Wis. Stats.  A summary from the Department of Workforce Development:

It is unlawful to discriminate against employees and job applicants because of their:

  • Sex                                                           Use of Lawful Products
  • Color                                                         Arrest or Conviction
  • Ancestry                                                    Honesty Testing
  • Disability                                                   National Origin
  • Marital Status                                            Pregnancy or Childbirth
  • Race                                                         Sexual Orientation
  • Creed (Religion)                                         Genetic Testing
  • Age (40 or Over)                                        Military Service
  • Declining to attend a meeting or participate in any communication about religious or political matters

This law applies to employers, employment agencies, labor unions and licensing agencies.

Employers may not require certain types of honesty testing or genetic testing as a condition of employment, nor discipline an employee because of the results.

Employees may not be harassed in the workplace based on their protected status nor retaliated against for filing a complaint, for assisting with a complaint, or for opposing discrimination in the workplace.

There is a 300-day time limit for filing a discrimination complaint.

Serious Act of Misconduct

2016 Wisconsin Act 150, s.230.34(1)(a) authorizes: "it is just cause to remove, suspend without pay, discharge, reduce the base pay of, or demote an employee without imposing progressive discipline for...while on duty, harassing a person."