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JOB CITES: A post-Oktoberfest chaser on voting leave

Suzanne Glisch is an employment associate in Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan LLP’s Milwaukee office. She can be reached at Suzanne_glisch@gshllp.com.

I recently returned from Oktoberfest. And no, I am not talking about the Oktoberfest held in La Crosse — I am talking about the real deal in München, Germany.

Needless to say, any thoughts of reality and my life back here disappeared the minute that first sip of German beer hit my lips as I listened to the thousands of people around me yelling “Prost!” Indeed, for obvious reasons, the upcoming presidential election was not on my mind. That is, until everyone who discovered that I was from America asked about it and wanted to put in their two cents about the candidates.

While election talk only (naturally) came after questions about whether I love certain (outdated) songs that are currently popular across the pond and/or questions about why Americans love flip flops so much (which I was, in fact, sporting, much to the dismay of my dirt- and beer-covered feet at the end of the evening), all of the questions I fielded about the election and candidates got me thinking about my own plans for Election Day.

In advance of Nov. 6, it is essential for all employers and employees to look into their states’ voting leave laws now so they can be prepared for Election Day, as well.

In Wisconsin, for example, any person that is eligible to vote at an election (e.g., individuals who are not of legal voting age who are not covered by the voting leave laws in Wisconsin) is entitled to be absent from his/her place of work for a period of time not to exceed three successive hours to vote. This time period, of course, only covers a 3-hour span during which the polls are actually open.

Further, Wisconsin requires that the elector notify his or her employer prior to Election Day of his or her intended absence for voting purposes. It is also important to note in this regard that Wisconsin allows an employer to designate the time of day for the absence. In other words, the employer can designate a single three-hour period for all employees to go vote and/or can designate a specific three-hour time period for each individual employee who notifies the employer that he or she intends to leave work in order to vote.

Finally, in Wisconsin no penalty—other than a deduction in pay for the time lost—may be imposed upon an elector by his or her employer by reason of that employee’s absence for purposes of voting.

While Wisconsin’s voting leave statute is quite straightforward, some states’ laws differ significantly. Because of the potentially vast differences in each state’s laws, it is, therefore, important that both employers and employees familiarize themselves with their particular state’s voting leave rights prior to Election Day if they are outside of Wisconsin.

And after my recent trip, I would also suggest enjoying an Oktoberfest-sized beer while watching the election results later that evening, as it will no doubt help whether your candidate wins or loses.

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