The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of age against applicants or employees who are 40 years of age or older (WI Gen. Stat. Sec. 111.31 et seq.). The Act applies to all public and private employers in the state, regardless of the number of employees.
Under the state law, it is an unlawful employment practice to:
• Refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate with respect to an individual's compensation or terms and conditions of employment on the basis of age.
• Retaliate against any individual who has made a complaint or assisted in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the state law; or to retaliate because the employer believes an individual engaged or may engage in such an activity.
• Publish an advertisement for employment, use an application form, or make any inquiry indicating a preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on age.
Employers should avoid any reference to age-related qualities such as “young or recent college graduates” or “youth-oriented” in job advertisements. Employers can give a hiring “preference” to older workers without violating the state's fair employment law or the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
Application forms should not contain requests for age-related dates such as high school or college graduation dates. Instead, employers should focus on degrees earned or training received.