Tagged: Naomi Soldon

Employers Are Still Struggling to Fill Vacancies

Naomi Soldon baristas

There’s no question that the pandemic has drastically changed the workforce in the United States this year, and Wisconsin hasn’t been immune to the harsh consequences of a nationwide labor shortage. Businesses are struggling to adequately staff, unemployment rates remain high, and many labor unions are striking for better wages. 

State and federal leaders are trying to pass legislation to keep businesses open and Americans working, but what are Wisconsin businesses and lawmakers doing to help the state’s economy?

Attorney Naomi Soldon provides an update on what the workforce and labor landscape is currently looking like for Wisconsinites.

Addressing the National Labor Shortage

Businesses in Wisconsin are struggling to hire enough employees to keep their operations afloat as job candidates are becoming more selective. This is largely due to the phenomenon known as the “Great Resignation,” where employees are leaving their jobs in record numbers. 

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that 97,000 people quit their jobs just in the month of August in Wisconsin. Job openings in the month of August totaled 214,000, which is well above what they were pre-pandemic in 2019.

Due to the volatility of the job market, state leaders now have to decide how to proceed with allocating funds received from the American Rescue Plan, which was signed by President Joe Biden earlier in the year. The plan is intended for small businesses to have another round of the payment protection program, along with emergency advance grants with a focus on grants for restaurants and live venues. They will also receive an employee retention tax credit in an effort to relieve small businesses struggling as a result of the pandemic.

Still, those restaurants and other businesses struggling to find employees must find a way to make their positions more alluring to potential candidates. In Wisconsin, these strategies include increasing pay and offering more robust benefit packages.  

Naomi Soldon Men Wanted poster

Tackling Unemployment Rates

Wisconsin’s unemployment rates remain at 3.9 percent for the sixth month in a row. The expiration of the enhanced federal unemployment benefits (which expired on September 6th) has not had an effect on those numbers. 

The Wisconsin Assembly recently voted for a bill to block additional federal unemployment benefits. The GOP was unable to wrangle the two-thirds votes necessary to pass the threshold that would override the veto from Democratic Governor Tony Evers. Evers suggested that people who lost jobs during this past year in the pandemic need a “lifeline” to support them in taking steps to re-enter the workforce.

In debates on the matter, Wisconsin Republicans argued that extra money makes it too easy for people to continue being unemployed; although their argument is faulty given the fact that the numbers have not changed since the benefits ended. The GOP proposes overhauling the current unemployment system in the state to a system that focuses on what they say would be re-employment. They are suggesting drug testing individuals who are claiming unemployment benefits and providing cash payments to businesses that successfully hire employees who have collected benefits for more than 27 weeks. 

Extending Work Hours For Teens

Amid labor strikes and walkouts when many labor union workers are lawyering up to advocate for fair wages, reasonable rest, and safer working conditions, it comes as no surprise that Wisconsin Republicans have passed a bill that allows 14-year-olds to work as late as 11 PM. Wisconsin had previously stuck to federal child labor laws which prevent teens under the age of 16 from working past 9 PM from June through Labor Day, or past 7 PM for the remainder of the year. 

Those in favor feel it is an answer to the state’s labor shortage and will help fill the labor gaps during peak seasonal rushes when small businesses have trouble finding employees to work odd hours. Some claim that businesses that hire young people are forced to close early because their young staff cannot work late at night. 

Those in opposition to the bill feel that children should focus on school and homework rather than working longer hours. They also express concern for the inherent risk of curfew violations if the bill is passed. 

The law would only apply to workers who are not covered by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This includes people who make less than $500,000 a year and people who do not engage in interstate commerce. Although tourism lobbyists are in favor of the bill, the Wisconsin AL-CIO, which is a federation of unions, opposes the bill. 


Although Wisconsin is working towards getting people back to work, the workforce is still in a state of flux throughout the state.

New bills are being passed to keep businesses staffed and stimulate the economy. It is sad that the Wisconsin Republicans’ answer to the labor shortage is to increase child laborers. Instead, requiring better wages and improved working conditions would increase the adult workforce and benefit the state as a whole.

Employment Law News

Naomi Soldon

State legislatures and district courts don’t make headlines like sweeping federal law changes, but are often just as important. Below, Naomi Soldon rounds up some of the most significant recent developments in employment law across the nation.

Pennsylvania Mandates that Minimum Wage Workers Kept on Premises Post-Shift Must be Paid

Amazon is almost permanently at the center of conversations about workplace law, with its workplace practices facing questions from internal sources and outside observers alike. Recently in Pennsylvania, it was ruled that Amazon was entitled to keep staff on its premises after their shifts were over — but the ruling stated that the retail giant must pay them for their time.

Two Amazon employees filed a lawsuit against the company in 2013. They claimed that the time they were forced to spend on company premises undergoing security checks after their shifts ended violated Pennsylvania’s minimum wage requirements, as the extra time on-site brought their hourly wage below the required level.

In 2014, the case was consolidated with several similar cases from other states, and a Kentucky court ruled against the plaintiffs. However, the plaintiffs subsequently took the issue to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which finally ruled that employers must pay their staff for extra time on company premises if failing to do so violates the state’s minimum wage policy. 

It’s worth noting that the minimum wage in Pennsylvania is higher than the level mandated by federal law, which was partly why the consolidated cases were thrown out in Kentucky.

California Reminds Businesses of Responsibility to Provide Reasonable Breast-Feeding Breaks

A ruling that informed companies that they must provide adequate breastfeeding facilities and breaks for employees has made local headlines recently due to the timing of the original ruling. The Enhanced Lactation Accommodation Law was brought into effect at the beginning of 2020, directly before the COVID-19 pandemic forced many workers to remain at home. Therefore, the state has treated it as a matter of concern that companies may not have adequately implemented the law’s provisions before the pandemic hit.

The law states that employers must provide accommodations for milk-expressing employees that meet the following conditions:• Safe and completely private• Located near to employees’ primary workspaces• Clean and hygienic• Free of potentially hazardous materials• Adequate seating for any potential occupants• Equipped with a surface for a breast pump and other personal items• Includes electrical sockets or extension cords to allow electronic items to be plugged in

According to Naomi Soldon, it’s encouraging that California issued this reminder as the headlines were understandably preoccupied with COVID-19 news when the law was passed. This reminder means that companies have no excuse when avoiding their responsibilities to milk-expressing employees and also makes it more likely that workers are aware of their rights.

Texas Increases Sexual Harassment Protections for Employees

Texas has introduced new legislation that offers increased protection to victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. The first key change is that the bill defines “the employer” more broadly than previous iterations. The pre-September 1st, 2021Texas Labor Code stated that an employer accused of harassment only qualified as an employer for this purpose if it has more than 15 employees.

The new legislation explicitly changes this to include employerswith only one employee. It further states that, in addition to the company, individuals including managers and co-workers can be held personally liable in a sexual harassment case— the previous iteration only allowed for this individual liability in the case of an alleged assault.

The legislation also provides a more detailed description of what constitutes harassment, and mandates that companies must monitor the workplace for inappropriate behavior and take corrective action “immediately and appropriately.” Failure to do so would constitute an unlawful employment practice, and the company could be held liable, although “immediate and appropriate” is not strictly defined.

The law also provides staff with a period of 300 days (up from 180 days previously) to raise a complaint of unlawful employment practices.

Ninth Circuit Court Rules That Romantic Favoritism in Workplace is Not Sex Discrimination

The Maner vs. Dignity Health contest ended with a Ninth Circuit ruling that romantic favoritism in the workplace does not constitute discrimination on the grounds of sex. Mr. Maner alleged that his employer, Dignity Health, removed his position due to a lack of funding while maintaining the position of a female worker performing the same job. This female staff member was in a romantic relationship with her lab chief.

Maner brought a case against Dignity Health on the grounds of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit found that the case of a “paramour preference” (which benefits the romantic partner of a senior staff member in decision-making, as in this case) did not constitute sex discrimination under Title VIIbecause the elimination of his position was not due to discrimination against him on the grounds of “race, color, sex, religion, or national origin.” “Sex” in this context is not read as “sexual activity or contact,” on which Mr. Maner’s case was based.

It should be noted that a side effect of the ruling could provide unscrupulous employers with increased leverage in creating coercive relationships with employees. While this was not part of Maner’s case, legitimizing the “paramour preference” requires a counterbalance to protect vulnerable employees from harassment in exchange for continued employment.

Round-up: Local Decisions Have Wide-Reaching Consequences

Employment law decisions and judgments at the state level aren’t just the domain of businesses, experts, and judges. They’re hugely important when it comes to changing workers’ lived experiences in their workplaces. 

Keeping up-to-date with employment law developments near you can have life-changing consequences, so stay informed.

A Wisconsin Lawmaker’s Plan to Raise Minimum Wage

Naomi Soldon

Last month, Democrats in the Wisconsin State Legislature called for the state’s minimum wage to increase. State Senator Melissa Agard and Representative Lisa Subeck asked that the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour be gradually increased to $15 dollars per hour. The state of Wisconsin has not increased the minimum wage since 2009 and this would represent a great opportunity to stimulate the state’s economy after the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorney Naomi Soldon of Soldon McCoy, the nationally recognized union labor law firm based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is hopeful that Wisconsin will pass this historic legislation and stresses the numerous benefits this raise would provide the state’s workers. Within this blog, Naomi Soldon will review Wisconsin’s current minimum wages and provide valuable context for Wisconsin’s potential minimum wage increase.

Wisconsin Compared to Other Midwest States

Wisconsin shares the same minimum wage as Iowa and Indiana; however, compared to Minnesota and Illinois, Wisconsin is at a stark disadvantage. Minnesota’s current minimum wage is $10.08 per hour, while Illinois’ minimum wage is $11, but $14 in the city of Chicago. Many Wisconsin government officials have already expressed their concern that Wisconsin’s lower minimum wages have cost the state valuable workers, specifically near the state’s border communities. To compete with Minnesota and Illinois for workers, Wisconsin must consider not only raising its minimum wage, but increasing it to an amount that would entice workers throughout the Midwest.

Benefits of Raising Wisconsin’s Minimum Wage

One of the most obvious benefits of raising the minimum wage would be the overall improvement of Wisconsin worker’s standard of living. Minimum wage workers would be able to more easily afford various monthly expenses, including rent, utilities, car payments, and groceries. This raise will also help improve worker morale and worker productivity, and would reduce the state’s problem of high worker turnover. Additionally, financial experts have stated that raising the minimum wage will help improve consumer spending, raise businesses’ profits, and benefit Wisconsin’s economy.

Wisconsin’s Current Minimum Wages
Adults – $7.25
Minor- $7.25
Opportunity Employee – $5.90
Tipped Employee – $2.33
Tipped Opportunity Employee – $2.13
Caddies 9 holes – $5.90
Caddies 18 holes – $10.50
Camp Counselors

No Board or Lodging

  • Adult: $350/week
  • Minor: $350/week

Board Only

  • Adult: $265/week
  • Minor: $265/week

With Board and Lodging

  • Adult: $210/week

  • Minor: $210/week

Supreme Court Rulings on Two Labor and Employment Law Cases

Each year, the Supreme Court hears more than 100 cases, many of which pertain to employment and labor laws. While the U.S. Department of Labor is tasked with administering and enforcing these laws, the 150 million American workers are encouraged to stay current on the Supreme Court’s most recent rulings to fully understand their rights within the workplace. Naomi Soldon of Soldon McCoy has spent the majority of her career helping Wisconsin unions and workers obtain fair working conditions and stresses the importance of U.S. workers possessing a foundational understanding of their rights and new labor laws. Within the past few months, the United States Supreme Court has ruled on two prominent labor cases in which Ms.Soldon will review in this blog. 

Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid – Labor Organizations

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled on the highly publicized Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid case. In 2015, United Farm Workers entered an employer’s nursery without providing written notice in order to organize workers. Cedar Point Nursery filed a lawsuit citing that the access regulation violated their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. The California union regulation allowed union organizers the right to physically enter and occupy an agricultural property for three hours per day, 120 days per year, for the purpose of organizing workers. However, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court stated that California’s labor organizations’ “right to take access” to an agricultural employer’s property constituted a per se physical under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and was unenforceable.   

Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. – Free Speech

B.L., a nameless student at Mahanoy Area High School, sued her high school after being suspended from the school’s junior varsity cheer team for a year after posting a Snapchat with the caption “F**k school f**k softball f**k cheer f**k everything.” B.L. had tried out for the school’s varsity cheerleading team; however, B.L. only been accepted to the junior varsity team. The student later sued the school under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, citing that her suspension from the team violated the First Amendment and that the school and team rules were discriminatory and unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court ruled in the student’s favor and agreed that her First Amendment rights had been violated. Although the ruling was limited to a school’s authority to regulate student’s speech off-campus, law experts believe this case will define freedom of speech cases for the workplace as well. This case is a significant milestone in defining freedom of speech in online and social media landscapes. 

Employers considering disciplinary action regarding an employee’s off-site speech or social media posting should review the Supreme Court’s ruling in order to better understand the ruling and help guide their decisions regarding employee off-site speech.

Naomi Soldon of the Law Office of Soldon McCoy Discusses Legal Concerns Regarding Employees Returning to the Office

Since the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan began in December 2020, more than 317 million doses of the vaccines have been distributed within the United States, leading many employers to ask their employees to return to the office after more than a year and a half of remote work. As expected, an onslaught of lawsuits are now taking place regarding employees’ rights to continue to work from home, the right to remain unvaccinated, and other concerns regarding COVID-19 exposure and employees returning to an in-office setting. Naomi Soldon, a Wisconsin-based attorney, specializing in labor and employment law, recognizes the significance of this development and hopes to answer some of the most common concerns related to returning to the office. 

Companies Requiring Workers to Get COVID-19 Vaccination 

One of the most widely discussed questions within American media today is whether or not companies will be able to require employees to provide confirmation of vaccination before returning to the office. Legally, companies are allowed to require documentation of vaccination. In fact, companies have already exercised this right as the majority of companies require proof of flu vaccination from new employees. However, if an employee refuses to be vaccinated due to a disability or religious belief, the company must provide the exempt employee with “reasonable accommodations” that do not pose an “undue hardship” on the business. Some examples of these reasonable accommodations include: 

– Asking the unvaccinated worker to wear a face mask during work hours

– Allowing the employee to continue to work remotely 

– Requiring the employee to perform periodic COVID-19 tests

 Firing Workers Who Refuse to Return to the Office

For many years, the American workforce has pushed for employers to offer more remote work options to improve national “work-life balance.” For this reason, it comes as no surprise that many American employees are now hesitant to return to the office now that they have seen the benefits of working remotely. In fact, one recent survey found that 58% of workers say they will “absolutely” look for a new job if their current company requires them to return to the office post-pandemic. While employees can look for new positions that offer remote work options, Naomi Soldon wants to stress that workers cannot legally refuse to return to the office. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), employees do not have the right to refuse to return to their job because of unsafe work conditions.

Naomi McCoy On Understanding Your Rights When it Comes to Forming a Union

When Congress enacted The National Labor Relations Act in 1935, it granted employees the right to join or form a union and “engage in protected, concerted activities to address or improve working conditions.” Before the National Labor Relations Act, employers within the US were free to punish or fire groups seeking higher pay or better benefits. Naomi Soldon, of Soldon McCoy, a Wisconsin law firm with more than 75 years representing unions in different industries and professions, has throughout her career sought to educate the public on the intricacies of general labor laws. To better help groups looking to form a union, Naomi Soldon will discuss various union rights and ways employers frequently attempt to interfere with these groups. 

While employees looking to form a union are advised to read The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in its entirety, several sections can be prioritized over others. Section 7 of the NLRA discusses in detail the rights granted to employees within unions, such as “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist a labor organization, to bargain collectively through representation of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” Furthermore, section 7 also addresses the right of employees to “refrain from any and all activities.” In other words, an employee cannot legally be pressured by a coworker into joining or forming a labor union. However, it is far more common for employers to attempt to stop workers from union formation or other concerted and protected activities. 

According to Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA, “to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in Section 7” are identified as unfair labor practices. It is common for employers looking to stop the formation or activities of a union to instruct managers to tell employees that there may be mass layoffs resulting from a union forming. Other tactics have included anti-union banners, video ads, and posters within the workplace, asking supervisors to discuss with each employee their views on unions, and requiring employees’ attendance at daily anti-union meetings. These actions are in direct violation of Section 8(a)(1) and should be immediately reported to the union organizing committee or a to other union representatives. 

It is essential that workers document any and all cases of employer interference and contact a labor attorney as soon as possible. 

Union Membership Dip is a Pandemic-Era Problem that could Persist, says Naomi Soldon

Naomi Soldon

Successful negotiation of union contracts is a major milestone for workers. Among other perks, these agreements ensure fair compensation and generous healthcare plans for the unionized employees. However, these contracts expire and a new bargaining process will commence to ensure continued coverage. Naomi Soldon, whose expertise is in labor relations law, as well as union/employer jointly trusteed health, welfare and pension funds, advises potential clients that heading to the bargaining table without expert legal representation is a fool’s errand. In the current climate, where employees are questioning companies over their response to the coronavirus, worker protections are more important than ever.

According to a November 2020 article from The Sacramento Bee, a decline in union membership among state workers in California has unfurled against the backdrop of COVID-19. Statistics showed that 69 percent of state employees there belonged to a union in February; it was down to 67 percent as of August and the “biggest factor in the slight decline appears to stem from a reduced rate of new employee sign-ups.” The report notes “momentous changes in working conditions, including risks of COVID-19 infection and rapid shifts to remote work.” The latter point is of interest to Naomi Soldon, who says the physical distance been workers can complicate the core component of belonging to a union: solidarity. “It’s sort of difficult to recruit new members on Zoom; you miss that person to person sort of connection,” an executive director of one union told the newspaper.

When a workforce makes an effort to unionize, the inevitable goal is to obtain better benefits and compensation. Employers generally accept these requests, but the back-and-forth in a legal setting to lock in union contract terms can be exhausting for all involved. Both workers and employers are wondering what healthcare plans will look like in a post-coronavirus world? Will employers still be generous with pension plans given the economic damage they’ve already suffered? These are huge issues for union members, who have families and futures to consider, and a veteran labor law layer can make all the difference when it comes time to nail down a new agreement.

When Naomi Soldon steps up to represent unions, she’s able to call on her trial and appellate court experience. As a 1990 graduate of University of Wisconsin Law School, Ms. Soldon has also been admitted to the United States Supreme Court and the United States Courts of Appeals for the Sixth and Seventh Circuits. She has also been admitted to State Bar of Wisconsin as well as the District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin and Michigan.