March 2009

In This Edition

By Cassy Van Dyke, SPHR,
GMA SHRM President

Wisconsin Supreme Court Affirms Award of Worker's Compensation Disfigurement Benefits for Limp
By Mike Leibundgut, Director of GMA SHRM Government Affairs Committee

A Different Way for an Employee to Challenge Termination
By David R. Friedman, Friedman Law Firm

Opposition to Discrimination
- By Meg Vergeront, Stafford Rosenbaum Law Firm

Benefits Emphasis Group Meeting on Tuesday, March 10th.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Changes COBRA
By Adam Jensen, JD, CEBS, GMA, FLMI, Virchow Krause Employee Benefits, LLC

GMA SHRM Benefits Survey Now Available

GMA SHRM Summit - Tuesday, March 24th - Recognizing and Coaching Different Personalities

Save the Date: 61st Annual SHRM Conference and Exposition - New Orleans

GMA SHRM Workforce Readiness and Diversity Committee

- Human Capital Conference Sponsorships Available!

- Susan R. Meisinger Fellowship

- Welcome New Members!

- In Transition

- What's Cool in HR

- Movin' Up

Click here to see the full GMA SHRM Event Calendar.

- GMA SHRM Summit - Recognizing and Coaching Difference Personalities - HRCI Pre-Approved for Credit

- GMA SHRM Benefits Emphasis Group - Effective Communication Tactics for Benefits

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Cassy Van Dyke , SPHR,
GMA SHRM President
2009 Corporate Partners

Boardman Law Firm
Galaxy Technologies
The Payroll Company

Hays Companies
Lee Hecht Harrison
Physicians Plus Insurance Corporation
Virchow Krause Employee Benefits

Melli Law, S.C.
Bunbury & Associates
Career Momentum
Stark Company Realtors
Gardner & White
Higgins Insurance Group
Liberty Mutual
The Alliance

Thank you!

GMA SHRM members,

I recently attended our Wisconsin State Council meeting and was saddened to hear the stories of how the economy has devastated many areas of the state, particularly Rock County. At the same time, I was grateful that Madison has strong industry and employment stability in state government, education, and healthcare, in addition to other strong businesses/organizations. While some of us have felt the effects of the economy, many of us also have much to be grateful for here in the Madison area.

We are so pleased that even during this tough economic time, the membership of our chapter has continued to grow. There are many benefits to becoming a member and getting more involved in the chapter through volunteering. The GMA SHRM leadership team is continuously striving to provide you valuable products, services, and opportunities to learn and network.

In alignment with its mission to serve the professional and advance the profession, National SHRM recently solicited submissions from members for an “economic stimulus” award. Members were encouraged to submit their best practices in how the human resources profession has responded to the economic downturn. Out of the 15 finalists, three were in Wisconsin, and one went to American Family Insurance in our very own Greater Madison Area! Congratulations to the winners and to all who submitted their innovative strategies and practices. Click here to view the winners and their case studies.

As a reminder, mark your calendars now for the GMA SHRM 2009 Human Capital Conference, taking place on May 12, 2009 at the Alliant Energy Center. This is an affordable and valuable opportunity to continue your development even within a modest budget. More information will follow soon.

Also mark your calendars for our upcoming events, including the HR Summit on March 24 – “Recognizing and Coaching Different Personalities.” More information about all of our events can be found at:

As always, if you have any questions or feedback for me or anyone on the Board, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

I wish each of you ongoing success!

Cassy Van Dyke, SPHR
GMA SHRM President

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GMA SHRM Board of Directors

Cassy Van Dyke, SPHR

Kari Lauritsen, SPHR
President Elect

Anthony Dix, SPHR, MBA
Past President

John Komosa
Secretary Treasurer

Kris Schmitt
Director, Education & Development

Chris Berg Thacker, PHR
VP, Membership

Mike Leibundgut, SPHR
Director, Government Affairs

Zach Penshorn, PHR
VP, Programming

Dave Furlan
VP, Marketing & Communications


Melissa Wieland
Director Workforce Readiness & Diversity


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Wisconsin Supreme Court Affirms Award of Worker's Compensation Disfigurement Benefits for Limp
Contributed by Mike Leibundgut, Director, GMA SHRM Government Affairs

On January 23, 2009, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in Dane County v. LIRC/Graham, 2009 WI 9, decided that worker’s compensation disfigurement benefits are not limited to visible burns, scars, and amputations but can include an impairment that significantly affects the appearance of a person, including some, but not all, limps. Prior to this decision, there was some dispute whether a limp constituted a disfigurement under the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Act.

The majority of the Court decided that limps that are merely a motion probably are not compensable. Conversely, the majority decided that a limp may be compensable when the claimant’s legs look imperfect and asymmetrical on an area of the body that is exposed during the normal course of employment. 

When a limp is connected to a visible imperfection that is exposed during the normal course of employment, one must analyze whether the remaining requirements of Wis. Stat. § 102.56(1), relating to compensable disfigurement claims, are met. Those requirements are as follows:

  1. a permanent disfigurement;
  2. disfiguring that must “occasion potential wage loss . . . take[ing] into account the age, education, training, and previous experience and earnings of the employee, the employee, the employee’s present occupation and earnings, and likelihood of future suitable occupational change;”
  3. the disfigurement must occur on an area of the body that is exposed during the normal course of employment; and
  4. “the appearance of the disfigurement, its location, and the likelihood of its exposure in occupations for which the employee is suited” must be taken into account in order to determine whether to award compensation.

Part of the State’s rationale for making worker’s compensation disfigurement benefits available to injured workers is the State’s assumption that employers discriminate against injured workers with a disfigurement.

In any event, the Court’s decision in the Graham case may result in more disfigurement claims by claimants involving an alleged limp.

The opinions expressed or implied are those of the author and may not represent the official position of GMA SHRM. This article is intended for general information purposes and highlights developments in the area of government affairs.

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A Different Way for an Employee to Challenge Termination
By David R. Friedman, Friedman Law Firm

It’s not uncommon for a company to bring in an outside firm to evaluate an aspect of the company’s operation, and based on that report, make personnel change. Once those changes are made, it would not be a surprise if an employee sued the company. The most common claims would likely be for some form of discrimination. But what about claims for conspiracy to interfere with the employment relationship, conspiracy to maliciously injure, and tortuous interference with the employment relationship?

A Wisconsin company (ABC) hired a consulting firm to assist in its efforts to implement a new software system (the program) and to take a look at one component of that program. In the process of its review, Z (the consulting firm’s employee) reported that members of W’s (employee of ABC) team lacked confidence in her. W’s boss, S, and other ABC employees also had their doubts about W. As a result of this information, ABC offered W two choices – a new position for a limited time with a reduced salary, or a severance package in exchange for a release. W rejected both offers, quit, and then sued.

W sued not only her former boss, S, but she sued the person who prepared the report Z (and who was subsequently hired by the Company) as well as the consulting company.

W’s first claim was that her boss, S, and the consulting firms employee, Z conspired to maliciously injure her business reputation in violation of Wis. Stat. §134.01. W claimed S and Z conveyed false and misleading information about her to ABC’s CEO, so that the CEO would lose confidence and ultimately fire her.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals said that to prove her claim, the plaintiff needed to establish that (1) the defendants acted together, (2) with a common purpose to injure the plaintiff’s business, (3) with malice, and (4) the acts financially injured the plaintiff. The court rejected W’s claim because she could not show that S and Z had acted maliciously.

W’s next claim was for tortuous interference with employment. A claim for intentional interference with employment has 5 elements: (1) a contractual relationship, (2) that the defendant interfered in the contractual relationship, (3) the interference was intentional, (4) a causal connection between the interference and the plaintiff’s damages, and (5) the interference was not justified or privileged.

In rejecting this theory, the court looked at the information that S and Z gave to ABC’s CEO and said that court record did not support an inference that conveyed the information was false.

W’s final theory was S and Z engaged in a common law conspiracy to get her fired.

A claim for common law conspiracy requires (1) the formation and operation of the conspiracy, (2) the wrongful act or acts done as part of the conspiracy, and (3) there must be damages as a result of the act(s). In rejecting this claim, the court could not find any factual support for the allegation that S and Z conveyed false and misleading information to ABC’s CEO.

When you read the elements of the various claim, it is apparent that even a routine decision to terminate an employee contains elements of each claim. The difficulty for the plaintiff is proving all of the elements of each type of claim. To improve ABC’s odds of prevailing, it is important to make sure that any report about an employee is (1) truthful, (2) factual, and (3) has backup documentation.

David R. Friedman has been practicing law for 38 years representing and assisting employers in negotiating collective bargaining agreements, appearing before state and federal agencies on matters involving the National Labor Relations Act, the Wisconsin Employment Relations Act, Title VII, and Wisconsin’s Fair Employment Act. He has lectured to state and national audiences on employment law topics.


Opposition to Discrimination
By Meg Vergeront, Stafford Rosenbaum Law Firm

The United States Supreme Court again significantly broadened the reach of retaliation claims under Title VII, the federal law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII defines discrimination to include retaliation for, among other things, opposing discriminatory practices prohibited by the statute. On its face, the word "oppose" would seem to imply some sort of affirmative act.

In Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee, the Court held that the mere act of answering questions about a fellow employee’s improper conduct during an internal harassment investigation constitutes "opposition" to a discriminatory practice and is therefore protected by Title VII. As a result of the Court's expansive definition of "opposition," employers likely will see an increase in retaliation claims. 

This expansive reading of what it means to “oppose” discrimination prohibited by Title VII may also spill over and affect retaliation claims brought under other laws. For example, the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act also prohibit retaliation based on “opposition” to acts of age and disability discrimination, respectively. Presumably, courts would apply the interpretation of “oppose” set forth in Crawford and find that an employee who participates in an internal investigation into allegations of age or disability discrimination would have the same protection against retaliation that employees who participate in a sexual harassment or race discrimination investigation have.

In the aftermath of Crawford, employers must take the same care in dealing with employees who provide information about harassment during an investigation as they would with an employee who directly complains about harassment. Managers and supervisors should be clearly instructed that no one is to retaliate against such employees for participating in the investigation. If adverse action against the employee is necessary, the grounds for the adverse action should be well documented.

Meg Vergeront is a partner at the Stafford Rosenbaum law firm. For over 14 years, she has consulted with employers on a regular basis to help address specific issues relating to discipline and discharge, working closely with them to find common sense resolutions to the issues. Ms. Vergeront also litigates employment cases in state and federal forums.

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March 10, 2009 – GMA SHRM Benefits Emphasis Group
Topic: Effective Communication Tactics for Benefits

This program will be an open forum led by a facilitator, Matt Boray from M3 Insurance Solutions, for you and fellow human resources professionals to share ideas, successes, and failures regarding the annual benefit enrollment process.

Click here for more information

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Changes COBRA
By Adam Jensen, JD, CEBS, GBA, FLMI, Virchow Krause Employee Benefits, LLC

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that contained measures to make COBRA continuation coverage more affordable for persons who have lost their job.

Do you find all these upcoming changes confusing? Wondering what the notice requirements now are and what action steps you must take as an employer? If you answered yes to any of those questions, continue reading as the major provisions are summarized here.


GMA SHRM and its survey partner, enetrix, a division of Gallup are pleased to provide the 2008 Benefits Survey! This new online report compiles statistically meaningful benefit data from more than 50 different GMA SHRM membership organizations in the Dane County area. A special thank you goes out to all our participating employers for their invaluable input and assistance in compiling this data.

Expanded Statistics in an Easy to Read Format!

Our new survey report breaks down the data by employer size and type of industry in an easy to read format. Expanded statistics range from traditional survey topics such as premiums, health insurance plan design, and retirement benefits to wellness, cost containment features, and PTO programs. The 2008 Survey provides HR Professionals like you with the authoritative data to evaluate and tailor a total compensation package that recruits and retains top talent in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

To purchase this survey, just follow this link:!stmenu_template.main? and click on the Purchase option at the top of the page. Participating members receive a significant discount on the cost of this survey.

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This program has been pre-approved by HRCI for 2.75 hours recertification credit.

Click here for information about HRCI pre-approval.

March 24, 2009 – GMA SHRM Summit

Topic: Recognizing and Coaching Different Personalities: Walking the Tightrope Between Leadership Task & Individual Needs

Click here for more information

The SHRM 61st Annual SHRM Conference & Exposition will be held on June 28 – July 1, 2009, in New Orleans, at the Morial Convention Center. Tom Brokaw and Lee Woodruff have already been confirmed to be keynote speakers at this exciting and informative event! To learn more, visit:


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The GMA SHRM Workforce Readiness and Diversity Committee volunteers with a variety of local organizations providing resume workshops, mock interviews, and trainings on a variety of topics. Every quarter, workshops are scheduled at the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) through partnerships with the DVR and Dane County Job Center. Given the economic times, we may see an increased need for these seminars. Please keep your eye on the week ly e-blasts for dates and times. If you know of another organization that may benefit from our committees involvement, or would like to be on our volunteer email list for future opportunities, please contact Melissa Wieland via email.


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Human Capital Conference Sponsorships Now Available!

GMA SHRM is very excited about the upcoming 4th Annual Human Capital Conference we are hosting at the Alliant Energy Center on Tuesday, May 12. The Programming Committee has already secured nationally recognized speakers, Laura Ford and Dr. Caroline Fisher to deliver two outstanding keynotes. There are several great breakout session topics lined up as well, including employment law updates, strategies in tough economic times, and coaching and mentoring.

For the past three years, the Conference has been a great success with approximately 200 human resource professionals in attendance. This is a great opportunity to market your company and services to numerous HR professionals from the Madison area.

The prices for 2009 sponsorships are as follows:

  • Title Sponsorship : $2,750
    This sponsorship level is the only one to include the company logo/name on the initial marketing mailing to members. In order to take advantage of this exclusive title spot we will need a commitment by March 6. Title sponsorships will be accepted after this date; however, they will miss out on the sole recognition spot on the initial mailing. This sponsorship level also includes company logo/name on follow up marketing materials, Web and e-mail communications, and all print materials provided at conference check-in, program recognition, and verbal acknowledgement at both keynote presentations.
  • Speaker and Breakout Sponsorships: $1,750 each
    • Lunch Sponsorship : Includes logo/name on marketing materials, program recognition, room signage, table tents, and verbal recognition at lunch.
    • Breakfast & Breaks Sponsorship: Includes logo/name on marketing materials, program recognition, table tent, and thank you on food table signage for all three breaks.
    • Morning Speaker Sponsorship : Includes logo/name on marketing materials, program recognition, and verbal recognition at the morning keynote presentation.
    • Luncheon Speaker Sponsorship : Includes logo/name on marketing materials, program recognition, and verbal recognition at the luncheon keynote presentation.
    • Reception/Networking Event Sponsorship: Includes logo/name on marketing materials, program recognition, table tents, and thank you on food table signage. The conference culminates with the reception as a networking event for members and to announce our raffle prize winner.
    • Attendee Gift Sponsorship : Includes logo/name on marketing materials, program recognition, and attendee gift.

Co-sponsorship opportunities are also available. Please contact Shaun Thomson ( or Missy Roth ( to secure your sponsorship spot or for more information. The deadline for sponsorship commitments is March 17.

Susan R. Meisinger Fellowship

Beginning now and continuing through April 1, 2009, SHRM is accepting applications for the new Susan R. Meisinger Fellowship for graduate study in HR. The award was established by SHRM, the HR Certification Institute and the SHRM Foundation in recognition and honor of the historic contributions of former president and CEO, Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, in advancing the human resource profession and developing its next generation of leaders.

At least one Susan R. Meisinger Fellow will receive as much as $10,000 annually for up to two years of graduate study in HR. This award will be given to the best and the brightest—the individuals who will be the next generation of leaders for our profession. To be eligible to apply, an HR professional must meet at least one of the following criteria: 1) be a member of SHRM or 2) hold a professional certification (e.g., PHR, SPHR or GPHR certification from the HR Certification Institute).

FAQs and an application form can be downloaded from the fellowship web site by clicking here, where you can also find a list of the other necessary application materials required to be considered for the fellowship. Awards will be announced annually in conjunction with SHRM’s Annual Conference and Exposition in New Orleans, June 28 – July 1, 2009. Members of the Membership Advisory Council will work in tandem with staff representatives from all three organizations to select the 2009 Fellowship winner.

While the web site contains a great deal of information, we have also established an e-mail box for applicants to pose additional questions. Please forward any questions you may have to, and a staff member will respond to you in a timely fashion.

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Welcome New Members!

GMA SHRM welcomes the following members who joined our chapter in January of 2009!

Perry Y. Asher



Tammy L. Barden

Employee Relations Specialist

WPS Health Insurance

Deborah K. Borzewski

Office Manager

RG Huston Company, Inc.

Kristin M. Brown



Leah E. Bruno

Talent Acquisition Specialist

American Red Cross

Ryan J. Burzinski

Recruitment Specialist

WPS Health Insurance

Sue Chemerow


Virchow Krause Employee Benefits, LLC

John Donovan

Corporate Relocation

ACE World Wide Moving

Pam Garcia-Rivera

Assistant Director

UW-Madison Letters & Science Career Services

Jason Guttenberg


Liberty Mutual Insurance

Lisa M. Hau

Payroll & Benefits Generalist

JT Packard

Becky Hubing


Galaxy Technologies

Greg Hubley


Hays Companies

Sandra L. Jacoby

Staffing Coordinator

ABR Employment Services

Kendee K. Jungers, PHR

Senior Human Resources Consultant

Cardinal Health

Mike Kremer


Physicians Plus Insurance Corp.

Tiana R. Lidstrom

Talent Coordinator

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Janel Lopez

HR Manager

Universal Silencer

Diane Loram


The Alliance

Melissa Mand



Heidi M. Meier

HR Representative

Clasen Quality Coatings

Laura A. Nemetz

OD Coordinator II

UW Credit Union

Marianne Pattee


Bunbury & Associates

Linda J. Peterson

Regional HR Manager

Virchow Krause & Co.

Jennifer L. Petree

HR Generalist

Diesel Injection Service

Adam R. Porter

HR Coordinator


Susan L. Porter

Staffing Manager

Luedtke-Storm-Mackey Chiropractic Clinic S.C.

Nikki J. Ryberg

Independent Contractor


Sarah L. Samson

Sr. Generalist

HospiceCare Inc.

Brian Schmeiser, SPHR

HR Administration Consultant

Curcio Webb, LLC

Leah J. Turner


West Business Services

Erin M. Ward, PHR

Medical Staffing Recruiter

Brightstar Healthcare

Eudell Watts

Manager, Health Policy

Ethicon Endo-Surgery

Beth A. Weiler

Consultant Relations Manager

Stratagem, Inc.

In Transition

If you are a member who is in between jobs, or who is currently employed but seeking new positions or career paths, write us a brief description of your skill set, areas of expertise, what you’re looking for, etc. Send us an e-mail. We’ll publish your information in the next HR InTouch.

What’s Cool in HR in the Greater Madison Area?

What’s going on in HR in your workplace?

Have you…

  • completed a major project,
  • implemented something new,
  • managed a change,

Is there something…

  • your company/dept does really well,
  • interesting about your company culture
  • that makes your company an employer of choice

We want to hear about it! Share it with your HR colleagues in HR InTouch. Send us an e-mail


Movin' Up

Lisa Munnik was recently promoted from HR Assistant to HR Generalist for the American Red Cross after 9 months with our organization. Her organizational skills, ability to multi-task, and quick-learning skills make her an excellent asset to our organization! Contributed by Holly Thompson, SPHR, HR Manager at American Red Cross.

Have you started with a new company? Has your organization recently promoted you to a new position? Or do you want to recognize a new person or promotion within your department? If so, we want to hear about it. Send us an e-mail, and we’ll publish your good news in the next HR InTouch!

HR InTouch Guidelines

Article Writing:

Do you have an interest in writing for the HR InTouch? We have an interest in learning more about your area of expertise!

Why should you volunteer? Top three reasons: 1) to share your knowledge and experiences to educate others; 2) to become more connected in the HR and Dane County communities; and 3) to contribute towards the advancement of GMA SHRM and the HR profession.

The first step is for you to choose a submission option: you can pre-submit an article to GMA SHRM at any time for us to use in any of the upcoming newsletters, you can sign up to write for a particular month, or we can put you on a list of people to contact in future months whenever we need articles.

Article length:

Because the HR InTouch is now in an online format, the size is flexible. The article should be engaging and hold readers’ attention. Include the core information in your article, and we will advise if it is too lengthy.


GMA SHRM is conscious not to allow solicitation through the articles, in an effort to protect the interests of our partners and members. The nature of the article should be educational (i.e., what are the business advantages of having a product like yours) or informational. Otherwise, if you truly are interested in advertising through the HR InTouch, you can work with our Marketing Committee. As a rule of thumb for article writing, if the submission relates to a for-profit event, or specifically markets your company (vs. your industry), it is an advertisement, and should be purchased. If it is a not-for-profit event that your company is hosting, or an announcement (i.e., a SHRM member recently joined your company), it is an acceptable addition to the HR InTouch content. If you have any questions related to the appropriateness of your submission, please contact us.

If you have questions, or to submit an article, contact GMA SHRM at .










Greater Madison Area SHRM, Inc.
2830 Agriculture Dr.
Madison, WI 53718
(608) 204-9814
fax: (608) 204-9818

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