October 2008

In This Edition

By Cassy Van Dyke, SPHR,
GMA SHRM President

What Do You Mean I Can’t Comment on the Election?
By David R. Friedman, Friedman Law Firm

Compensation Survey
- By Lauren Petranech, PHR University of Wisconsin

Communicating About Diversity and Inclusion with Middle Managers
By Peter Bye, President, MDB Group Inc.

The Vote & Your Company Policy
By Rachel Sterk, PHR, The Employer Group

Reducing Risk and Abuse of FMLA Leave
By Jennifer S. Mirus, Boardman Law Firm

SHRM Governmental Affairs Website

Wisconsin SHRM State Conference Registration Now Open

- GMA SHRM Member Welcome and Orientation - October 28th

- Kudos to Compensation and Benefits Survey Volunteers

- Consider a Donation to the SHRM Foundation

-Schedule of GMA SHRM Committee Meetings

- Welcome New Members

- What's Cool in HR

- In Transition

- Movin' Up

Click here to see the full GMA SHRM Event Calendar.

- WISHRM State Conference, October 15-17

- October 21, 2008 - My GMA SHRM Toolbox - How to Avoid the Most Common Mistakes When Dealing with Your Employees

- October 28, 2008 Member Welcome, Networking and Orientation

Printable version


































Cassy Van Dyke , SPHR,
GMA SHRM President
2008 Corporate Partners

Boardman Law Firm
Lee Hecht Harrison
Melli Law, S.C.

Fidelitec, LLC
Physicians Plus Insurance Corporation
Right Management
UW Credit Union

Career Momentum
Edgewood College
Neider & Boucher, S.C.
Payroll Data Services
QBE Regional Insurance
Stark Company Realtors

Thank you!

GMA SHRM Members,

Along with the change of the seasons, I am feeling a bit reflective. I am reminded about priorities, and dedicating time to the things that are important in our personal and professional lives.

Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Never before have we had so little time in which to do so much.” I’m sure many of you can relate to that even more so today than ever before. This is a great time to pause and reflect on the things that you value and how you spend your time.

In my professional life, I value the learning and growth that comes with information sharing and networking. As I relate that to my involvement in our chapter, I value the professional development and networking opportunities that we offer. In a time where many of us are busy, I know it’s tough to dedicate time to ourselves and our professional development, but I encourage you to carve out some time for what is important.

On October 28, our chapter is hosting our Member Orientation beginning at 3:30 p.m. at Boardman Law Firm. If you haven’t been to this event before, I highly recommend it as a way to network with fellow HR and business professionals, and learn more about the chapter.

We are also full swing in the election “season”, and I’m pleased to say that as of July 1, 2008, GMA SHRM has a Governmental Affairs Committee that is dedicated to educating our members and the community on legislation and regulatory proposals that affect our profession. If you are interested in learning more about this committee as it is in its planning and development stages, please contact Mike Leibundgut at mleibundgut@parkbank.comor 608.278.2872.

Keep an eye out for more information on our November, 18 GMA SHRM Summit, which will addresses Government Affairs as we partner with the City of Madison to present on the topic of diversity.

More information regarding SHRM’s support of the 2008 Presidential Election can be found at: http://www.shrm.org/advocacy/gotv/ec.aspWhile the GMA SHRM chapter serves an educational versus an advocacy mission, we encourage all of our members to get involved on a local and/or national level.

I hope you will join me in recommitting to my professional learning. The GMA SHRM leadership team is dedicated to continuing to offer high-quality education and networking opportunities, and appreciates your involvement in our chapter.

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



What Do You Mean I Can’t Comment on the Election?
By David R. Friedman, Friedman Law Firm

As the election approaches it is natural for employees to want to express their views on the election. Now if they would just confine those remarks to non-work time and away from work there would be no need for this legal update.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. But this right to speak has its limits in the work place. To determine what those limits are, you need to determine whether the employee works for a private sector or government employer. The right of employees to speak at work is different if the employee works for McDonalds than for a governmental agency which includes local municipalities. This is because the First Amendment does not apply to non-government (private sector) employers. Private sector employees have no constitutional right of free speech at work and the employer may restrict such speech. (Different rules apply if the speech is governed by the National Labor Relations Act).

If an employer recognizes reality and allows employees to discuss the election, the employer still has the right to discipline an employee if the speech disrupts the business operations. Given the gender and race of the candidates, employers need to be alert to the possibility that inappropriate comments may be made. These type comments could create a hostile work environment which would be a violation of Title VII.

The rules governing a governmental employer’s right to restrict its employees’ speech at work is different and more complicated. The reason is that the government acts in a dual capacity - - that of an employer with the rights that any employer has and that of the government with the restrictions placed on it by the United States Constitution. The employee also functions in a dual capacity - - that of an employee and that of a citizen.

When a governmental employee speaks about the election at work, the question becomes whether the person is speaking as an employee or as a citizen. If the person is speaking as an employee, the governmental employer has more leeway to regulating the speech. If the person is speaking as a citizen, the government has less ability to restrict the speech.

In the latest case in this area, the United States Supreme Court said, “We hold that when public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, the employees are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.” The test is easy to state but difficult to apply. In most situations an employee’s statements about the election will not be “pursuant to (the employee’s) official duties.” What can the governmental employer do? The employer can regulate the time, place and manner of the speech. The employer still has the right to insist that the employee fulfill the job duties. It can also discipline an employee for disruptive speech or speech that creates a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII.

One final point. Wisconsin law allows an employee to be absent from work for up to 3 hours to vote if the employee notifies the employer of that intent before Election Day. The employer may designate the time of day for the absence.

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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Compensation Survey
By Lauren Petranech, PHR, University of Wisconsin

The 2008 GMA SHRM Compensation Survey report is now available on line! A special thank you goes out to all our participating employers for their invaluable assistance in compiling this data. With over 200 benchmark jobs surveyed across multiple industries in the Dane County area, this survey is a valuable tool for HR Professionals in evaluating the competitiveness of their total compensation programs.

Our new on-line survey provides more flexibility to produce reports based on revenue size, public versus private employers, industry, and number of permanent full time employees with just a click of a mouse. Data is continuously collected and updated year round so your survey always contains the most up to date information.

To purchase this survey, just follow this link: http://www.gmashrm.org/website/surveys.shtml and click on the Purchase option at the top of the page. Participating members receive a significant discount on the cost of this survey. To become a participating employer, click on Participation for more information and thank you for your input!

Communicating About Diversity and Inclusion with Middle Managers
By Peter Bye, President, MDB Group, Inc.

Peter Bye will be the Presenter at the November 18 th GMA SHRM Summit titled Government Affairs: EEOC "Diversity Works" at the Alliant Energy Center.

This article is a case study of a hypothetical global corporation based upon an amalgam of the author’s professional experience.

Gotham International, Ltd. wished to further expand its business through diversity and inclusion. As with most major global corporations, Gotham International had been working on diversity and inclusion for a long time—more than 15 years.

This long history represents one of their most vexing issues! How does Gotham reinvigorate this work and truly engage all employees? Where do they begin? All indicators show that the single most difficult group to engage is the middle manager.

So Gotham set out to completely reenergize its corporate diversity strategy. They found their old strategy and communications plan to be over four years old! Their business had changed so much that the diversity strategy became irrelevant. To develop the new strategy, Gotham used a Business-Aligned® diversity planning methodology documented in 2002 and available on MDB Group's website.

Gotham’s plan to engage employees is simultaneously simple, elegant, and exceedingly difficult: communication. Planned, purposeful, timely, well-executed communications designed into their new diversity strategy from the beginning. Let’s look at the when, who, why, what, and how of Gotham International’s “super” communications plan.Click here to read entire case study.

The Vote & Your Company Policy
By Rachel Sterk, PHR, The Employer Group

As we are looking to the fall season, the upcoming election comes to mind. Those of us that have employees who travel on company business need to remember to provide accommodation wherever possible to our employees to be sure that they have the opportunity to vote. To that end, be sure that your policies regarding voting time include wording to provide accommodation. Sample of such wording: “If the employee will be traveling on company business on the typical day that voting will take place, (s)he is encouraged to complete an absentee ballot prior to his/her departure.”


Reducing Risk and Abuse of FMLA Leave
By Jennifer S. Mirus, Boardman Law Firm

The federal and Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Acts (FMLAs) were enacted for the valid purpose of providing employees with unpaid, job protected leave for specific medical and family reasons. When enacted, the laws were intended to provide employees with leave for serious conditions that might extend beyond the employer’s sick leave policies or that last more than few days. However, the laws also permit the use of FMLA leave on an intermittent basis, meaning that employees may take small increments of leave (one hour or even less, depending on the employer’s policies) throughout the year without advance notice. Several issues under the FMLAs, including intermittent leave, have created frustrations for many employers.

Consider the following example: Lois, a second year employee, has had a spotty attendance record. She has admitted to several tardies due to oversleeping and traffic problems. Lois has also had below average productivity and has shown a lack of teamwork. When Lois has another absence, you prepare a written warning on attendance and meet with her for a disciplinary meeting. Lois tells you in this meeting that she has chronic migraine headaches, has missed work several times due to migraines, and will be providing you with medical certification for intermittent FMLA leave. Once Lois provides the certification, she is generally entitled to 12 weeks of job protected leave (again, in one hour or even smaller increments). Although Lois’s performance continues to be spotty, you are now concerned that if you address these issues, Lois will believe she is being punished because of her FMLA leave. Lois’s co-workers are frustrated and you now feel unable to address the legitimate performance issues.

Although the FMLAs give employees significant leeway in taking leave, there are steps employers can take to more effectively enforce their attendance policies and reduce risk under the FMLA.

1.Attendance policies and procedures. Adopt an attendance policy that clearly articulates your attendance expectations and the required procedures for requesting and reporting expected and unexpected absences, including detailed call in procedures. It is important to consistently enforce the policy and procedures for all employees taking any type of sick leave, whether or not FMLA covered.

2 . Address attendance and performance issues. Do not procrastinate on addressing attendance and performance issues. If an employee is not meeting your legitimate expectations, it is critical that you talk with the employee AT THAT TIME about the issue and have the employee sign off on documentation indicating that the issue was presented. In Lois’s situation, had the employer addressed and documented her attendance and performance problems before the FMLA issue was raised, the employer would be in a much stronger position to address future issues and avoid a claim of retaliation.

3. Maintain confidentiality. The FMLA and disability laws generally require employers to maintain confidentiality regarding an employee’s status and leaves. Although an employee’s chronic absences or modified schedule may cause “rumblings” amongst co-workers, it is important not to disclose medical information. Although it may seem like a good idea to explain to staff what the employee’s issue is, this is generally not acceptable under the laws. Tell co-workers that personnel matters are not discussed with staff and thank them for their service.

4. Require medical certifications. Employers should consistently require medical certifications of the need for FMLA leave. If the certification form is incomplete or unclear, employers may ask the employee to return the form to the physician or may have a company physician contact the employee’s physician for clarification. Under the current rules, employers may not directly contact the employee’s physician.

5. Require recertifications when appropriate. Employers are able to ask for recertifications of conditions qualifying for leave generally every 30 days. However, if the original certification states that the need for leave will last more than 30 days, the employer must wait whatever length of time is indicated to obtain recertification. Employers may require a recertification earlier than every 30 days if the employee requests an extension of the leave, if circumstances change significantly, or if the employer learns of information casting doubt on the continued need for leave. For instance, if an original certification estimated that intermittent leave would be needed once or twice per month, the employer may seek recertification if the employee is subsequently averaging two absences per week.

6. Conditionally designate leave as FMLA leave. When you have information that an employee’s absence is related to a serious health condition, designate the absence as FMLA covered pending obtaining further information through the medical FMLA certification process. In addition, it is at times advisable to proactively request a medical certification from an employee who has had multiple absences in order to assess whether those absences may be covered by FMLA leave.

7. Communicate clearly about FMLA leave. Many FMLA lawsuits stem from either unclear communication or a total lack of communication about FMLA leave. It is critical to keep employees apprised of their rights and their obligations and to ensure that your communications are taking into consideration issues under worker’s compensation and disability laws.

8. Keep your policies, procedures and form up to date. The latest change under the federal FMLA is the addition of military-related FMLA, which became effective in January of 2008. We are also expecting new final FMLA rules from the Department of Labor at the end of 2008 that will significantly affect the FMLA notice requirements. If you have not had your FMLA documents updated recently, it is important to do so.

While there is no “magic pill” to make FMLA administration an easy task, consistently implementing these steps will lower your risk of FMLA abuse and liability.

Jennifer Mirus is a partner in the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group at the Boardman Law Firm. jmirus@boardmanlawfirm.com


Website of the Month: Get Out the Vote!

SHRM Governmental Affairs Website


With the November elections fast approaching, SHRM's Governmental Affairs has developed this Get Out the Vote! (GOTV) 2008 website, providing information useful for HR professionals interested in helping with Voter Education for the upcoming 2008 elections.

This website is a non-partisan effort intended solely to get more Americans to exercise their constitutional right to vote in November's elections. Get Out the Vote is designed to help HR professionals motivate co-workers to register and vote this coming November. It is not intended to advocate in favor of any particular candidate, political party, or ballot initiative. Rather, we hope it will help to increase voter participation this fall, and we know we can count on you to share these sentiments with your family, friends, and coworkers.


Wisconsin SHRM State Conference Registration Now Open

Sign up now for the 2008 Wisconsin SHRM State Conference being held in Green Bay, WI on October 15-17, 2008! Join fellow colleagues and "go for the gold" at the annual conference. Highlights include relevant and comprehensive HR programs, great networking activities and an enjoyable night at Green Bay's famous Lambeau Field. To learn more about the conference, please visit: www.wishrm.org/



SHRM 61st Annual Conference & Exposition - Save the Date!

The SHRM 61st Annual 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: www.shrm.org/conferences/annual.


GMA SHRM Member Welcome, Networking and Orientation

All GMA SHRM members are invited to attend the Tuesday, October 28th GMA SHRM Orientation held at Boardman Law Firm. This is an excellent opportunity for new members to meet existing members over food & drink in a casual environment.

In addition, all in attendance will learn about opportunities GMA SHRM offers right here locally, some for no cost and yet, hours of continuing HRCI education credits!! You will also learn more about GMA SHRM committees, networking, getting involved and much more.

Click here for program details and registration.

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Kudos to Compensation & Benefits Survey Volunteers
By Dave Furlan, PHR, VP of Communications & Marketing

I want to extend my thanks to the Communications and Marketing Committee for all of their hard work on the compensation and benefits surveys this year. As many of you know, we moved to a new vendor this year, so a lot of hours were needed to prepare everything, not only for this year but for upcoming years. Special thanks go to Joan Provencher and Chris Storlie for reviewing the survey instruments and providing recommendations. Thank you also to Lauren Petranech who wrote many of the communication pieces we have used, and will continue to use, to promote participation and sales of the survey.

The compensation and benefits surveys are one of the most important services offered by our chapter. Compensation survey reports are now available to purchase (see related article) and benefits survey reports should be available in mid-October. Thank you to everyone who participated this year.


Consider a Donation to the SHRM Foundation!

By Anthony Dix, SPHR, MBA
GMA SHRM Past President

The SHRM Foundation is a not-for-profit affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The Foundation funds research, publications and education to advance the HR profession and enhance the effectiveness of HR professionals. The support provided to the SHRM Foundation is vital to the continued growth and success of our profession and GMA SHRM is proud to be a significant contributor each year.

The SHRM Foundation maximizes the impact of the HR profession on organizational decision-making and performance by promoting innovation, education, research, and the use of research-based knowledge. Their objectives include

  • The SHRM Foundation will be a preeminent broker/source of valued research knowledge.
  • The SHRM Foundation will broaden the understanding and application of research-based knowledge and techniques to the HR professional.
  • The SHRM Foundation will make research-based knowledge accessible and actionable for the HR profession.
  • The SHRM Foundation will develop and nurture funding sources for the Foundation's work.

If you would like to learn more about the Foundation and how funds are utilized, visit the website at http://www.shrm.org/foundation/ .

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today by visiting the following link: http://www.shrm.org/foundation/.

If you have further questions about the SHRM Foundation, please feel free to contact me directly.

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Schedule of GMA SHRM Committee Meetings:

Programming Committee will meet on November 20th For that meeting, each group should bring a specific topic and potential speaker for all assigned programs.  Our goal is to have speaker information and marketing materials for all programs ready for HRCI credit approval and marketing by January!!!
 We welcome you to join us on 3 pm - 4:30 pm at the Boardman Law Firm

Marketing & Communications Committee will meet at Morgan Data Solutions on Friday, November 7th from 8:30 am to 10 am. New committee members are always welcome! Contact Dave Furlan at dfurlan@virchowkrause.com.

Workforce Readiness Committee November 6 th at the Park Bank Support Center from 8 am to 9 am.

Check the GMA SHRM Calendar of Events at : http://www.gmashrm.org/website/calendar/index.asp.


Welcome New Members

GMA SHRM welcomes the following members who joined our chapter in September 2008.

Angela M. Brown

HR Assistant

Nord Gear

Sara R. Brunner, PHR

HR Administrator


Kim J. Butner

General Manager

ITS Compliance, Inc.

Meghan T. Daly

Staffing Specialist


Thomas D. Engle, Jr.



Kevin P. Farrell

Director, Human Resources

Famous Footwear

Christopher L. Hagen

Account Executive

Johnson Insurance

Kelly L. Lawry

HR Manager

Sara Lee

Brenda Lockwood

Staffing Specialist


Stanley M. Lyons

Branch Manager


Mark A. Mapes

Compensation Manager

QBE The Americas

Gail Midlikowski

VP of Operations

Unity Health Insurance

Dave Miller

HR Generalist

Wave Wind

Mary Morgan



Lauri Morris


Quarles & Brady LLP

Gao X. Moua

Sr. HR Rep

Fiskars Brands, Inc.

Carie M. Myers

SR. Human Resource Generalist

DEMCO, Inc., Demco Media & Demco Library Services

Jennifer Opperman


Lakeland College

Patricia L. Schliesmann, SPHR

Director of HR

Our House Senior Living

Karri R. Schraith

HR Professional


Krysia Stratton

Sr. Staffing Specialist

Manpower Inc.

Donald B. Thayer


SVA Staffing Solutions

Carrie J. Zoladz

Controller/Firm Administrator

Bremser Group Inc.


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


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.

Movin' Up

Carrie Dushenski, PHR has taken a new position with Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin as an HR Generalist, moving from a manufacturing environment to the healthcare industry.

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 chapteradmin@gmashrm.org .










Greater Madison Area SHRM, Inc.
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Madison, WI 53718
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fax: (608) 204-9818
Web: http://www.gmashrm.org/

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