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Workers’ antics keep Ackermann busy

Sara Ackermann

Sara Ackermann

Sara Ackermann drills down what she does every day into three words: sex, drugs and drama.

An attorney specializing in employment issues with Ruder Ware in Wausau, Ackermann helps businesses deal with employee questions.

“I’m part psychotherapist and part trying to control the drama,” she said. “It’s amazing sometimes what employees do and I’m there to help businesses deal with what their workers may have done. I’m on the phone constantly, fielding questions from employers who are wondering if they can terminate someone or they are worried about something going on in their workplace.”

Ackermann can help employers document behavior that may lead to termination, or if there’s been a harassment claim, she may investigate that.

“My goal is to help employers navigate the legal waters and look at the risks involving what they are looking at doing,” she said. “The goal is to keep them out of court.”

Ackermann became interested in employment law while working as a paralegal at a business and working with the human resources staff. After she attended college, she admitted she didn’t know what career path to follow so she obtained a paralegal certification.

“Once I started working with the employment lawyers and saw what they were doing, I knew this is what I wanted to do,” she said. “My days are so varied and fascinating.”

Besides counseling employers about various laws — “They often call me up and ask a question and since I know the law, I can just answer it right then” — and dealing with more complex cases such as sexual harassment investigations, Ackermann also draws up contracts and other employment-related documents.

Harassment is an issue that frequently crosses Ackermann’s desk, and she’s continuously amazed at how employers conduct themselves in the workplace.

“It just boggles the mind what some people do or what they put in an email,” she said. “It’s like, ‘what are you thinking?’ My job is definitely not dull.”

Wisconsin Law Journal: What was your favorite class in law school?
Sara Ackermann: Employment law because it deals with people, and people are crazy.

WLJ: What activity can you spend hours doing outside of the office?
Ackermann: Driving cross-country in a motor home.

WLJ: What was the first concert you attended?
Ackermann: Motley Crue.

WLJ: If you could live anywhere, where would you pick?
Ackermann: Somewhere with a view of the sun setting over water.

WLJ: If you could have anyone to have drinks with, who would you pick?
Ackermann: Will Farrell

WLJ: If you could choose one superpower, which one would you pick?
Ackermann: Flying — that way I could make it to all my boys’ baseball games.

WLJ: What was your favorite toy as a child?
Ackermann: My little brother. I tortured him mercilessly.

WLJ: Do you have a favorite sport you enjoy to play/watch?
Ackermann: Watching pro football and playing catch with my boys.

WLJ: What was the last movie you saw?
Ackermann: ‘The Quiet Man.’

WLJ: Do you have a phrase or word that you tend to overuse?
Ackermann: Yes, but it is not fit to print.

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