Bill Would Provide Employers Protection in Hiring Convicted Felons

The Assembly Labor and Workforce Development Committee this week held a public hearing on Assembly Bill 286, permitting employers to consider a person’s felony conviction record when deciding to hire or terminate the person. (The Senate companion bill is SB 207).

Currently, Wisconsin is one of only four states that include convicted felons as a “protected class” under the definition of employment discrimination. Proponents of the legislation argue that Wisconsin’s law exposes employers to unnecessary litigation threats from felons who are either passed over for a job or terminated. Moreover, current Wisconsin law permits compensatory and punitive damages in employment discrimination cases, and employers face greater litigation costs should they decide not to hire a convicted felon or terminate an employee who has a felony conviction record.