May 2009


In This Edition

By Kari Lauritsen, SPHR,
GMA SHRM President-Elect

Proposed Law Could Mean Greater Exposure for Wisconsin Employers
By Jessica Kramer, General Counsel for The Employers Group

Stimulus Bill Makes Changes to HIPAA
By Adam Jensen, JD, CEBS, GMA, FLMI, Virchow Krause Employee Benefits, LLC

GMA SHRM Benefits Survey Now Available

Brain Gain
An article by Maggie Ginsberg-Schultz for Spectrum Magazine

Free College Planning Seminars Presented by American College Planners

Save the Date: 61st Annual SHRM Conference and Exposition - New Orleans
Book Your Room in the Wisconsin Hotel!

Interested in career possibilities for you or have an HR opening in your company?

- GMA SHRM On the Air

- GMA SHRM is Linked In

- Welcome New Members!

- In Transition

- What's Cool in HR

- Movin' Up

Click here to see the full GMA SHRM Event Calendar.

- May 12, 2009 Human Capital Conference

- June 16, 2009 My GMA SHRM Toolbox. Topic: The Synergy of Consumer-Driven Health Plans with Wellness and Disease Management

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Kari Lauritsen , SPHR,
GMA SHRM President-Elect
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!

Greetings GMA SHRM members,

On May 12, the Greater Madison Area SHRM Chapter is hosting our 4 th Annual Human Capital Conference. This is an affordable and high-quality learning event covering a variety of topics that address today’s business challenges.

The speaker line-up is as follows:

Morning Keynote – Laura Ford, SPHR: Unleashing Your HR Creativity - Laura's keynote will give you creative ways to look at problems and will help you discover ways to develop new solutions!

Lunch Keynote – Caroline Fisher, PhD :
In Times of Trouble: How your organization's culture will either help or hinder performance, resilience, and sustainability in today's economy.
Caroline's focus will be on "corporate culture" and the link between culture and specific bottom-line business results. She will share with us over 20 years of research involving over 1500 companies!

The conference also features the following breakout sessions:

    • Managing Compensation in an Economic Recession
    • Developing a Coaching Platform: What will fit within your culture?
    • Leading at the Speed of Change: HR survival strategies in turbulent times
    • Real Life Stories from the Road Up-Close and Personal with Organizations that have Walked the "Culture Development" Path 
    • Creating the Ideal Candidate Experience
    • Employment Law Update 
    • Mentoring Across the Generations
    • The Impact of Economic Uncertainty on Reward Programs

At the end of the day we will be hosting a networking event so that you can continue to build strong relationships with other business and HR professionals. To register or for more information on the conference, keynote presentations, breakout sessions, and the networking event, visit the GMA SHRM website.

GMA SHRM keeps the conference price at less than $100 for members – a great value! What are the benefits to you by attending this event? A great day of learning, inspiration, and networking! The program has also been pre-approved by HRCI for 5.75 hours of general recertification credit and 2.25 hours of strategic recertification credit.

Please pass this on anyone else you think might benefit from this great event! I hope you can attend and look forward to seeing you there.

Kari Lauritsen, SPHR
GMA SHRM President Elect

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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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Proposed Law Could Mean Greater Exposure for Wisconsin Employers
Written by Jessica Kramer, General Counsel for The Employer Group, Inc.

Under the current Wisconsin fair employment law, when an employee or former employee files a discrimination claim against an employer either before the Department of Workforce Development or in state circuit court, the relief available to the employee is limited to reinstatement or front pay in lieu of reinstatement, back pay for up to two years, and recovery of costs and attorney fees. A proposal has been introduced in the Assembly to greatly expand the remedies available to employees who are successful in their pursuit of discrimination claims in circuit court, which means employers defeated by these lawsuits face the possibility of paying damage awards that are substantially larger than Wisconsin employers are used to.

Assembly Bill 31 (the full text of which can be found by clicking here) provides that a circuit court must award compensatory and punitive damages, in addition to the relief already available, to employees bringing claims, when the court finds in favor of the employee. Compensatory damages encompass damages the individual suffered as a direct or indirect result of the discriminatory action, which could include such items as future lost wages and emotional distress as a result of a termination. Punitive damages, designed to punish the wrongdoer, can be set at the whim of a judge or jury (although excessive punitive damages awards by juries are often reduced by the judge).

An amendment to the bill (can be viewed by clicking here) was recently introduced which lessens the impact on employers in two ways. First, it would exempt employers employing fewer than 15 individuals from an action for compensatory and punitive damage. Those employers would be subject only to the old law, allowing back pay, costs, and attorney fees. Second, the amendment would limit the amount of total damages based upon the size of the employer, as follows:

Size of Employer

Maximum Damages Allowed

15 to 100 employees


101 to 200 employees


201 to 500 employees


501 or more employees


Additionally, whenever a court finds that discrimination has occurred, the court must order the employer to pay a surcharge equal to 10 percent of the total damages awarded. Half of the surcharge will go to the court for administrative costs, and the other half will go to the state for the administration of fair employment law.

If this proposal is enacted, Employers will need to take a look at their employment practices liability policies and talk with their insurance carriers to determine whether they are sufficiently covered to handle such claims, in the event they arise. Some insurance policies specifically exclude payment for punitive damages, so employers will need to pay special attention to that aspect of their policies.

The proposal has a long road ahead of it. The Assembly Committee on Labor has passed it and it is now before the Assembly Committee on Rules. It may make another stop or two before being voted on by the entire Assembly and then passed through a similar process in the Senate. Follow its progress online.

Jessica M. Kramer is a member of the GMA SHRM Government Affairs Committee and is General Counsel for The Employer Group, Inc., a Professional Employer Organization based in Verona, where she handles all of the company’s legal matters, including labor and employment law, regulatory compliance, and business matters. You may reach her via email .

The opinions expressed or implied are those of the author and may not represent the official position of GMASHRM. This article is intended for general information purposes and highlights developments in the legal area. This article does not constitute legal advice. The reader should consult legal counsel to determine how this information applies to any specific situation.

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Stimulus Bill Makes Changes to HIPAA
By Adam Jensen, JD, CEBS, GBA, FLMI, Virchow Krause Employee Benefits, LLC

The recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) made a number of landmark changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) that will affect employer-sponsored health plans. To view the ARRA provisions that most affect employer sponsored health plans click here.

Adam P. Jensen is a Senior Compliance Officer with Virchow Krause Employee Benefits, LLC and has worked in the insurance and employee benefits industry since 1986. Adam specializes in providing regulatory compliance and plan design services for health and welfare plans and qualified retirement plans. He also advises executive clients on non-qualified deferred compensation issues. Contact Adam via email or phone at 608-240-2582.


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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Brain Gain: Around the world and right here in Madison, recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce isn't about what looks good on paper anymore; it's about what's good for the bottom line.
An article by Maggie Ginsberg-Schultz for Spectrum Magazine

When Nicole Ralph was an American studying in Germany, she couldn't help but notice the backward way those funny Germans peeled their bananas. They held them upside down, pinched the bottoms, and split them open. It was strange, all wrong—until she tried it for herself. Turns out, the stem makes for a pretty convenient handle. She hasn't peeled a banana the "American" way since.

"As Americans and certainly as Midwesterners, we don't have a monopoly on all the good ideas in the world," says Ralph, who founded International Professionals, a networking support group for multinational Madisonians, in 2003. "If we could change the United Nations from a political kind of instrument to purely cultural, if we took all the best ideas from the whole world, we could create a Utopia. But we have to know about them first." What Ralph is describing is the new, evolving definition of diversity. Recognition and inclusion of ideas from all different walks of life is critical to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, but when you think about diversity, do you think about the different ways to peel a banana? Or do you think about the more historically common themes of race and gender equity? If it's the latter, it might be time for a paradigm shift—particularly if you're an employer.

"I think diversity is an outdated model," says Henry Sanders Jr., president of MAGNET and CEO of Capacity 360. "Diversity is where you're saying we want to bring people who might look different than us to the table, but that doesn't mean we're going to value their opinion, it just means we're going to bring them to the table. The new model is inclusion, where you have people from different backgrounds, different beliefs and cultures coming together and actually adding some value to what you're trying to accomplish." This is not to say issues of gender, race, sexual orientation, and ability inequity are no longer important; they are. Equal opportunity and affirmative action initiatives were born out of great need, but as more and more corporations embrace diversity inclusion simply because it's good business, the conversation broadens. Diversity inclusion is not about recognizing differences, it's about embracing them.

"A common misperception is that what we need to do is become color blind," says Erika Braunginn, who serves on the executive committee for the Madison Network of Black Professionals. "I think the minute you become color blind, you erase a huge self-identifier for people. It's about recognizing you as who you are. I'm a biracial female. But what religion am I? What language do I speak? What's my ethnic heritage? What's my socioeconomic status? There is talent in a lot of different places. When hiring a person of color, be very aware not to make them a token. Anyone, of any background, gets burned out when they don't feel supported." According to devotees of the evolving definition of diversity, it's no longer enough to recruit "minority" groups, bulk up your numbers, and look brilliant on paper. You must foster a workplace climate that recognizes, values, and supports ideas from every direction; diversity inclusion is how you stop the bleeding out of talent.

"Nobody uses the word diversity anymore," says Rebecca Ryan of Next Generation Consulting. "It's just all about talent attraction and retention and who cares what flavor the meat suit is that the person shows up in. They just want these giant brains."

Free College Planning Seminars Presented by American College Planners

American College Planners can provide your employees with free college planning seminars during their lunch break or even after work! This is a great value-added benefit you can provide to your employees and their families free of charge.

American College Planners is a non-profit educational seminar organization started in 1997 which accepts donations. Its concept came out of a need in the community for families to send their children to college, yet had no idea where to begin and how to maneuver through the lengthy process. It largely lay dormant until last year when a couple of the volunteers saw the need to revitalize the program. They worked with some benefactors to pay for the website and then put together the presentation and some marketing materials. They don’t sell any product or service.

The American College Planner’s program provides a common sense approach to seeking out the best college at the best price for students. They share tips on positioning students to colleges for the very best outcome without taking on extra loans, delaying retirement, and even graduating in four years!

They begin with the end in mind. Instead of choosing a college first, they encourage students to examine their strengths and talents and begin career research. Once students have found careers of interest, the college search can begin. The ultimate goal is for the student to attend the college with the best program of study in their chosen field and have a successful career.

Cost is a huge factor in the college planning process. Many families discount certain colleges because of their price and/or location and unknowingly pay more for a school that offers less to the student. American College Planners will help families understand schools not even considered may can be an affordable option. Proven planning and negotiation tips will help open the doors to colleges regardless of price while also providing the best option for a student’s major and career.

American College Planners have a goal that is simple: They want to build awareness in the community about the right way to go to college. Attending college is a large expense for any family and American College Planners has found ways to guide families to getting into the best college at the best price. Their presentation has been well received by families throughout Dane County and they hope to continue their work by expanding their message working with local businesses.

American College Planners is a non-profit organization supported by donations dedicated to guiding students and families through the complex college process. Their group of trained volunteers includes certified college planning specialists, financial aid counselors, and former educators. They put on free seminars at schools, libraries, and businesses.

For more information please visit their website, To set up a seminar or learn more, please contact Anne Doyle, Executive Director, via email.

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:

Wisconsin SHRM has reserved a block of rooms at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel. If you’d like to reserve one of these rooms, click here.

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Interested in career possibilities for you or have an HR opening in your company?

Visit the GMA SHRM website and click on “Job Board” under the Resources to learn about opportunities all over Wisconsin or to advertise your opportunity in Wisconsin, inviting other SHRM members to apply. Even the fees are reasonable:

$100 per job – if affiliated with a local Wisconsin SHRM Chapter 
$200 per job – if no chapter affiliation

For more information on the fees and how to have your opening posted, click here.


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GMA SHRM On the Air
Contributed by Dave Furlan, VP of Marketing and Communications

Last month, In Business with Jody & Joan interviewed GMA SHRM member, Tom Engle, about human resources and payroll on Madison 1670AM, The Pulse. The show was broadcast from 6-7pm on Wednesday, April 8. On the show, Tom plugs SHRM membership and the GMA SHRM chapter as a great resource for employers. During the interview, the hosts also jumped in to describe our chapter as a “great chapter” that is “very active” and provides “a lot of training.” The show also talks about the value of certification among HR professionals.

To listen to the archived show, click here. Thanks, Tom for promoting our profession and chapter among the Madison radio audience! Want to learn more about becoming more active with GMA SHRM? Visit us online to learn more!

GMA SHRM is LinkedIn

 Come join our GMA SHRM Chapter group on LinkedIn! What is LinkedIn? It’s a business-oriented social networking site that can be used to connect with friends (old and new), find or post jobs and get information. In order to join, sign in at and keyword search GMA SHRM Chapter.


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Welcome New Members!

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

Erin L. Brawner

HR Generalist

Attic Correctional Services, LLC

Leif J. Erickson

Account Manager


Brekk A. Feeley

HR Administrator

World Council of Credit Unions

Kari A. Graf

HR Manager

AE Business Solutions

Janelle D. Halford

Employment Coordinator

West Business Services

Huck B. Hausmann

VP Human Resources

MetaStar, Inc.

Andrea B. Hughes

Instructional Design Manager

CUNA, Inc.

Michelle C. Jetzer, PHR


Solaris Management LLC

Karla A. King

Recruiter/HR Generalist

Management Recruiters of Madison

Corey D. Lenz

Employment Coordinator

West Business Services

Marc Malterer

Channel Capacity & Sourcing Manager

American Family Insurance

Julie Patterson, SPHR


Invitrogen Corp

Leann Ploessl


The Charlton Group Inc.

Andrew Ridley

Employment Services Specialist

UW Medical Foundation


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

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

© 2004; Greater Madison Area SHRM, Inc. All rights reserved.