The civil liberties of gay couples and the religious rights of a Colorado business owner were recently on a collision course. Then, on June 4, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court found a detour to avoid the collision, at least for now.

The Court held that, in some instances, a balance must be struck between protecting gay persons in the exercise of their civil rights and the rights of a business owner to express his religious-based objection to gay marriage.  The case is known as the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

Why is the Masterpiece Cakeshop case of interest to human resources professionals?  Because the same policy intersection– or “collision course,” depending on your perspective–  could easily arise in an employment context in Wisconsin.  Therefore, H.R. professionals will enhance their value to their organization if they are generally aware of court rulings like Masterpice Cakeshop.

In Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Colorado bakery was owned and operated by an expert baker who professed certain religious beliefs about gay marriage.  The baker told a same-sex couple that he would not create a cake for their wedding celebration because of his religious opposition to same-sex marriages – – marriages that Colorado did not then recognize – – but that he would sell them other baked goods, such as birthday cakes.

The couple filed a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, based on a Colorado law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in a “place of business engaged in any sales to the public and any place offering services . . . to the public.”  Lower courts in the State of Colorado rejected the baker’s First Amendment claim that requiring him to create a cake for a same-sex couple for their wedding would violate his right to free speech by compelling him to exercise his artistic talents to express a message with which he disagreed and which would, he maintained, violate his right to the free exercise of religion.

In its decision, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the intersection between protecting gay persons in the exercise of their civil rights, as well as religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage that may in some instances be a protected form of expression as well.

So how did the U.S. Supreme Court resolve the two basic rights, which appeared to be on a collision course? To continue with a travel metaphor, the Supreme Court took a detour.  It did not decide the issue head-on in this case.  Rather, it found that the Colorado commission that considered the matter to be impermissibly hostile to the sincerely held religious beliefs of the baker in this instance.  Such hostility meant that the baker was not afforded his due process rights in this instance.  The majority of the Supreme Court held that the Colorado commission’s treatment of the baker violated Colorado’s duty under the First Amendment to not have laws or regulations that express an overt hostility to a religion or a religious viewpoint.  As a result, the majority of the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Colorado appellate court,  meaning that the case will be returned to the Colorado legal system for consideration of the matter, but without the noted hostility that the majority noted.

What is the lesson for Wisconsin employers and HR professionals?  First, Wisconsin has a law similar to the Colorado law that makes it unlawful to give preferential treatment to some classes of persons in providing services or facilities in any public place of accommodation or amusement because of sex, race, color, creed, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry.  § 106.52(3), Wis. Stats., Public places of accommodation or amusement.  A person who feels that he or she has been a victim of unlawful treatment under the law may file a claim with the Equal Rights Division of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, the same entity that considers violations under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act.

Second, certain Wisconsin employers may have the constitutional protection of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  That clause states that “Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.


The rights and remedies available to everyone under state and federal law–whether state fair employment or public accommodation laws, or Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or similar federal laws–often create policy conflicts for employees, employers and businesses in general.  The wise HR professional will stay alert to the intersection and potential conflicts that will necessarily arise in the workplace and in the marketplace.  For now, the resolution to the underlying policy conflict in Masterpiece Cakeshop between public accommodation rights for gay couples and the religious expression rights of small businesses will need to be addressed another day.

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GMA SHRM 2018 Human Capital Conference – Through the Eyes of an Attendee

I’ve been attending the Greater Madison Area SHRM Human Capital Conference (HCC) for 5 years – the HCC is GMA SHRM’s biggest & most sought out professional development event.  Each year tops the one before, and this year was no different.  The day was jam-packed with informative, insightful, & relevant speakers that held my attention right through to happy hour (that’s right – they have an HR Happy Hour!)

The morning started with coffee (readily available all day – they know their audience), light breakfast, & networking.  It’s such a pleasure to catch up with familiar faces from past GMA SHRM events, and welcome those ‘first time attendees’ who are new to the chapter.  Folks that join GMA SHRM consistently site ‘networking’ as their top reason for joining – and there was plenty of that, with 240 attendees!

After morning announcements acknowledging GMA SHRM’s amazing volunteers, Pinnacle award, & other achievements (we’re the largest local SHRM chapter in WI!), our keynote speaker began.  I could go on for days, so I’ll just say this: Google David Horsager.  Read his books.  Listen to his speeches.  He talked about the importance of trust in teams.  As he began to discuss his 8 Pillars of Trust, you could feel the ‘aha’ moments happening.  Attendees telling themselves “this is why I came here today.”

Break time:  More networking, & chatting with GMA SHRM’s outstanding sponsors.  The sponsors were SO great, they even went above & beyond with their give-away-swag: attendees got Wisconsin shaped cookie cutters, a lion stuffed animal wearing a “Wild About HR” t-shirt, & designer chocolate, to name a few.  This isn’t your standard ‘free pen & note pad’ kind of event.

Breakout Session 1 – while there were numerous options, I choose the ‘Say Hello to Exit Interviews’, and learned invaluable information about the right timing, length, and content of exit interviews.  Attendees at this session listened to exit interview best practices from companies of various sizes and focuses – coming from a small, family-owned organization, this was invaluable information for me.

Lunch – everyone’s favorite!  Followed by the 2nd half of Mr. Horsager’s keynote speech.  Queue the ‘aha’ moments.

Breakout Session 2 –I choose to attend ‘Controlling Anger Before it Controls the Team’.  Not sure if that says anything about me but…it was an impactful presentation!   There were laughs as the group discussed adding games or fun to brighten things up at work (try speaking in a British accent, it’ll diffuse a tense situation immediately!).

Breakout Session 3 – the Future of HR.  Another stellar choice, as SHRM Field Services Rep Callie Zipple discussed the new realities of the workplace.  Anyone in attendance was given the info necessary to be ahead of the curve on innovative workplace technology affecting HR.  Think intelligent apps, new twists to paid leave (paternity leave anyone?), and more.

Just when you think the day is over – HR Happy Hour begins!  Drinks, apps, more networking – at this point in the day, everyone knows someone new & networking comes with ease.  Attendees received a raffle ticket, & GMA SHRM reps raffled off  top-notch prizes, donated by the generous event sponsors (a pair of Badger basketball tickets!?  Yes please!).  GMA SHRM also raised $425 for the SHRM Foundation through their silent auction.

I walked away feeling great, with a surplus of tactics & info to take directly to my team, and a few new ‘HR friends’ to boot.  Can’t wait until next year’s GMA SHRM Human Capital Conference!

Click here for a full breakdown of the successful 2018 GMA SHRM Human Capital Conference –

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Federal Workplace Flexibility Legislation’s Potential Impact

Building upon increasingly more creative solutions to address the 21st Century Workplace, the Workplace Flexibility in the 21st Century Act is an innovative approach to providing more time off for employees, more predictability for employers and more options for everyone. For participating employers, the legislation would create a single federal framework for providing paid leave, rather than the fragmented patchwork of state and local laws mandating leave. To date, seven states and more than 30 jurisdictions have adopted paid sick leave laws, and this legislative activity is only expected to increase in coming years.

How You Can Take Action? Share your personal HR story with SHRM or your Representative’s DC office. Send them the answer to this question “How will federal workplace flexibility legislation will impact the HR profession, employers and employees in your local area?”.

Background: On November 2, 2017, Representative Mimi Walters (R-CA) introduced H.R. 4219, the Workplace Flexibility in the 21st Century Act. The proposed legislation would amend the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (ERISA), to create a qualified flexible work arrangement plan as an employee welfare benefit under the statute. Employers who voluntarily choose to provide their employees a federal standard of paid time off and options for flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or compressed work schedules. This ERISA-covered plan would pre-empt state and local paid leave and Workflex laws.

SHRM believes that the United States must have a 21st Century Workflex policy that works for employers and employees alike, helping them meet work-life and organizational needs. At its core, a 21st Century Workflex policy must facilitate the expansion of paid leave and Workflex options regarding when, where and how work is done. And it must account for different work environments and be accessible by employers of all sizes and in all industries. It must avoid old ways of thinking that hold the workplace back.

by Beth Hill, LASHRM At-Large Government Affairs Chair

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Summer Months Doesn’t Mean Time Off for Dodge County Chapter

As we move into the summer months here in Wisconsin, Dodge County SHRM is hard at work preparing for our Fall Kick-Off event that we hold in September. That event brings current members together after a few months of not having a monthly lunch meeting and allows everyone to catch up on what has been happening in the world of HR. This event also allows the members to bring possible new members and show them why it is to their advantage to be a member of Dodge County SHRM. Our kick-off event is always well attended and everyone enjoys the networking, food, and prizes!

The executive board never takes time off and we continue our monthly meetings. We work with local businesses and the community to help find ways to fill open positions and write grants that can assist in this process. Dodge County SHRM is well represented in the Manufacturer’s Business Alliance that is working hard on making sure that the needs of area manufacturers are met. By working together it makes it easier to find candidates to fill open positions and to find out what the needs are of both the manufacturing companies and those looking for a job.

We also continue to work on building our membership and are well on our way to meeting our membership goal for 2018. One of the ways we are building our membership is by having executive members reach out to people that were members at one time and for one reason or another are not longer a part of our chapter. If these past members are not interested in becoming a member again, we find out the reason why, so that we can make changes if need be.

Our chapter strives to be the best chapter we can and to offer our members things that will allow them to continue to be successful in their roles both in the workplace and in the community. Dodge County SHRM is very proud to have received TWO PINNACLE AWARDS, one in 2015 and the other in 2017, along with several other awards, but the Pinnacles are at the center of the awards we have received. We have proven that hard work, and dedication to our chapter, pays off.

Always strive to be the best chapter that you can be, set your 2019 goals high, and don’t give up until your chapter has reached those goals!

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CVSHRM Checks In On 2018 Initiatives

Did you set 2018 personal or professional development goals? Or, maybe New Year’s resolutions? As spring has finally sprung, it may be time for a progress check. That is what this post is about – a progress check on CVSHRM’s 2018 initiatives.

At our January strategic planning session, CVSHRM set our 2018 goals (1) develop a CVSHRM vision and mission that will drive and direct our strategies and action plans; (2) continue to support and serve our members by offering quality professional development, personal development, and networking opportunities to support a positive member experience; (3) increase involvement of and engage with our student and rising professionals; and (4) improve Board and CVSHRM structure and process to ensure continued success, to position the organization for growth, and ensure volunteer sustainability.

It’s only May, but we’ve made substantial strides toward goal achievement. First, the Board has worked to develop a draft vision (to support and serve as the trusted partner to advance the human resources profession in the Chippewa Valley), and with the leadership of our Marketing and Public Relations Director, we are almost there with a final draft of a mission.

We have worked tirelessly the first five months of 2018 to achieve our second Board goal – quality programming and networking opportunities. We offered an exceptional Employment Law Update in February, an engaging session on recruitment videos in March, a stellar content-packed HR Conference in April, and a valuable leadership program earlier this month. June and July will be social and networking focused, and we dive back into more programming later this year. With the support of our VP of Membership, Heather Murray, Laura has also created a Programming Committee that aligns with our fourth objective – volunteer engagement and sustainability. We are appreciative of the support and assistance of members who are serving on our new Programming Committee.

Another Board sub-committee, led by Lara Riste, is making strides to launch a new CVSHRM website. Board members have devoted much time to this significant undertaking and we believe our members will appreciate the change. (We have not yet tackled the bylaw revisions but hope to initiate that project soon.)

Finally, with respect to goal three, I am happy to share that at the WISHRM HR Games and Student Conference, CVSHRM had more student teams participate than any other chapter. UW Eau Claire, UW Stout, and CVTC were all represented with one or more student teams; UWEC Payrollers team grabbed a fourth-place win.

Austin Vogler, Tabitha Newton, and Jayme DeYot will spend some time this summer preparing the strategy to engage local students at the beginning of the next academic year and one of our fall programming events will have connections to our human resources student/new-to-the-profession demographic.

We have made a tremendous amount of progress in just five short months.  Of course we could not have done it without our chapter volunteers and general members.  If you have any questions on our chapter initiatives, feel free to reach out to us at

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Where there is CHAOS there is OPPORTUNITY. 

Where there is CHAOS there is OPPORTUNITY.   Think about that.   How much chaos have you seen in your career?  Who has risen to the occasion?    What were the circumstances?   Who leads you through the journey to success?

St. Croix Valley Employers Association (SCVEA), recently hosted a seminar “The Keys to Inspirational Leadership” featuring successful business leader George Demou, President and CEO of Avtex.     George spoke about his career journey and the pivotal turning points (also known as chaotic moments of opportunity) leading to his success.

Over his career he has narrowed in his belief that high performing companies have four key elements:   Leadership, Focus, Culture and Loyal Customers.     He defined leadership to mean “you are able to connect your employees with the vision of the organization”.    If your employees cannot “see it” and ultimately “believe it”, how are they going to sell your product, your service or your concept?   A leader must be able to connect the dots and rally employees to accomplish something great.    And, successful leaders have a deep understanding of the company’s vision and goals.

Do your company, management leaders and employees have focus?   Do you have a strategic plan, a 5-year plan, or even a 1-year plan?    If there is a plan, do your managers and leaders know and understand what that is?    If they do not, it is absolutely imperative you make this your top priority.    You must have a strategy, have key priorities that support that strategy, and leaders that will build energy and FOCUS around that strategy.    Have one plan, not 3 plans–everyone should be marching in the same direction.

Do you know your team?   Do you care about your team?   What are their concerns, what do they struggle with, what are their successes, what motivates them?  Remember…whoever is listening is in control.    If your employees are talking to you, they are trusting you.     Carefully define what the goals are for the company, for the team, for individuals.    Coach employees, hold them accountable, empower them and enable them to build their success.    And Celebrate!    Celebrate small successes in addition to the monumental ones!   Culture is so important.   Employees are happier when they are working hard and seeing that work pay off.    Reward this behavior – it doesn’t have to be monetary all the time – a pat on the back, a lunch, public recognition, or…gasp…MORE OPPORTUNITY!

Successful companies have learned to hone in on their two key assets…their employees and their customers.    Without customers you have no need for employees.     Customers are your lifeline.  Treat them that way!       You can have the best product in the industry, but if you botch the customer experience, they…will…leave…period.    Ensure your employees understand how critical customer service is.    Share those success stories!

Final thoughts….

People go to work for a leader….not a company.   Great leadership inspires!

Pound the drum, set the pace.  You have the drumsticks!  —  George Demou


Written by Nicki O’Connell for SCVEA

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Respecting Differences with Fox Valley SHRM

Does your company want to outperform your competitors, bring in more sales revenue, and return higher profits?  The key, according to McKinsey & Co, is ensuring a diverse workforce, which leads to greater innovation and performance.  To help our chapter members understand better the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we invited our city’s very own Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, Karen Nelson on April 17, 2018.

Ms. Nelson emphasized we all need to have an open mind when working with others.  Diversity is much more than the color of our skin or the color of our eyes. Diversity is the entire history of ourselves.  To understand diversity, we need to walk in each other’s shoes to understand what we each have been through.

To further this point, Ms. Nelson conducted the Privilege Walk with our attendees, which is a powerful self-reflection tool.  The purpose of the Privilege Walk activity is to learn how power and privilege can affect our lives, even when we are not aware it is happening.  This activity gave our members the opportunity to reflect on the different areas of their lives where they have experienced privilege as well the areas where they have not.  The most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and to talk about. We quickly came to realize personally what each of us has overcome in our own lives and career, as well as appreciating that not everyone has had the same experiences as you have had.

As Charles Sykes has said, “A truly multicultural organization is one which difference is fully respected and valued AND in which the things that connect us are stronger than the things that separate us.” As HR professionals, we work hard to ensure our initiatives are inclusive and encourage work environments where everyone has the sense of being accepted as soon as they walk in the doors on their first day, no matter their story.  We also need to keep this in the front of our leadership teams to understand that even though we have a business to run, previous historical stories can shape the future of organizations if we are able to keep an open mind for everyone.

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Sheboygan Area SHRM Gets a Facebook Page

“Finally it happened to me, right in front of my face” (CC Peniston)….FACEBOOK has arrived to the Sheboygan Area SHRM Chapter.  We are so excited to be able to use this platform to engage new members, current members and past members by spreading across a more social platform.  We may be finally coming out of the dark ages but it will be worth it.  We have created a private group and a page.  The private group will be geared to paid chapter members only to allow freedom to ask those questions we are all thinking and to start building connections and relationships.  We are pumped to get this going.  We also have created a Facebook Page to help support marketing / membership / promotions of any and all things HR.  This will be open to the chapter and public.  It is a great way for chapter members to share with other members.  We hope to use things like recommendations and polls to keep a regular pulse with our chapter members. 

This effort is an important initiative for our chapter to further enhance our networking abilities.  Our chapter demographics and needs have changed over the last few years and we are excited for this effort to show our chapter how important they are to our success.

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The Value of Volunteering

As someone who is naturally introverted, sometimes volunteering for events can bring anxiety, but at the same time, it is exciting and I know the value that the event brings. This is what happened when I volunteered for the WI SHRM HR Games. This was my first time volunteering to be part of the games and, in the end, I think I took as much out of the games as the students did, maybe more. Not only was it a tremendous amount of fun, but it was a great refresher on a number of HR topics.

CVSHRM and WISHRM offer a number of tools and resources to help our student members make that leap into the professional world and help them to be successful. One of these opportunities is the HR Games, which are coordinated by WISHRM. The HR Games is a Jeopardy-style competition using categories of human resources related knowledge with teams of students from throughout Wisconsin competing against each other in multiple rounds. The HR Games are held annually and float to various locations throughout the state, relying on colleges to volunteer their space and time. This year, on March 2nd and 3rd, the HR Games were held at the Western Technical College campus in La Crosse. The games included 225 questions in total between the rounds and covered many HR topics and ranging in difficulty.

This year’s competition had 22 participating teams with a strong local presence from both UW-Stout and UWEC. In total, the two universities sent 7 teams. Additionally, several Chippewa Valley SHRM board members volunteered their time to help facilitate this event. We would like to extend a special thank you to Jen Fetherston, Tabitha Newton, and Chippewa Valley SHRM’s president, Tanya Hubanks who serves an additional role on the WISHRM State Board as the College Relations Director and was tasked with coordinating and planning this year’s event.

This year’s event began on Friday evening and the teams participated in five rounds. For each round, two teams would compete head-to-head for points that would contribute to their overall final ranking. There were a number of classrooms set up for the competition with 3-4 volunteers in each room including a presenter, judge, timekeeper and matrix manager. I was thrilled to see such positive interactions among the different teams. Although they were competing against each other, there was lots of laughing and conversation. By the end of the night, the teams had dwindled down to the top four. Of the top four teams, one was from UW-Eau Claire (the Pay Rollers), two were from Western Technical, and one was from Blackhawk Technical. In speaking with students, the questions were challenging and the competition was tough, but the experience had a tremendous value even if they didn’t make it to the finals.

Saturday was the finals and included a number of speakers, including Tabitha Newton, the CVSHRM College Relations coordinator for UW-Eau Claire, who was part of an open forum panel presentation. Many teams may not have made it to the finals, but there was quite a few who stuck around for day two to watch the finals and see the presenters. Ultimately, the two Western Technical teams took first and second place, Blackhawk Technical took third place, and the UWEC Pay Rollers took fourth.

For anyone that may have been on the fence about volunteering for the event or looking for another way to be involved, I highly recommend that you volunteer next year. It was well worth my time and it was a great deal of fun! Not to mention that I was lucky enough to meet many great current and future HR professionals from around the state and across multiple industries, many of which I continue to be in contact with and include in my arsenal of HR experts.

by Jayme DeYot, Volunteer

Posted in CVSHRM, HR Games WISHRM, WI SHRM | Leave a comment

Volunteering – You’re In It For You Too!

We all have important roles and multiple tasks to juggle between work and life…
sometimes we break and ask ourselves “What’s in it for me? Why am I involved in this (group, hobby, sport)?  Why do I do this when it’s not rewarding?”  The Jefferson County Human Resource Management Association wants to send out a THANK YOU to all volunteers and remind you that your hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed. There are some immediate acknowledgements, and as Amanda Pell from UpWorthy writes “It’s not just nice: Here are 11 research-backed reasons to volunteer your time,” there are some personal benefits too.

For all other chapters reading this… stay ahead of the game. Plan future programs now, to provide yourself a cushion to plan for other “fun” events or socials. This allows you to break away from the norm of routine meetings, educational seminars, etc. and give yourself that time to collect, refresh, and share that satisfaction with the others involved. JCHRMA has finished scheduling half of its 2019 program year. With programming in a proactive position, there’s less hanging pressure for last minute deadlines and the urgency of who’s handling what AND, the chapter can focus efforts on making personal calls and connections to build its membership, board and committees.

For chapter members and other HR Professionals reading this… join! Get involved! Make a statement for your profession and for the community!

Pell, Amanda. “It’s Not Just Nice: Here Are 11 Research-Backed Reasons to Volunteer Your Time.” Upworthy, 20 Mar. 2017,
Posted in JCHRMA, Uncategorized | Leave a comment