Wisconsin workers' compensation celebrates its 100th birthday
Today marks 100 years of protection for Wisconsin’s workers under the Worker’s Compensation Act. Wisconsin led the nation in this progressive push for employee rights. In 1911, the Wisconsin legislature passed the first effective Worker’s Compensation law in the country. A test case was brought before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and one hundred years ago, today, the Court, in Borgnis v. Falk, 147 Wis. 327, 133 N.W. 209 (November 14, 1911), upheld the constitutionality of the Act—ushering in the very first, valid worker’s compensation law in our country.
The “grand compromise” in our state has served both sides for the entire century. Employees gave up the right Continue reading
My first lecture each semester in the Workers’ Compensation course at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee centers on the “great trade-off” between workers and employers that forged the nation’s first constitutional worker’s compensation system in 1911: Workers gave up the right to sue employers for workplace injuries in return for a “no fault” compensation system with assurance of timely but limited benefit payments, adequate and competent medical services, and prompt and sufficient rehabilitation.
The system was designed to provide a means of “guaranteed” compensation for a legitimate injury and disability.
Employers received immunity from tort suits in return for compulsory provision of a scheduled benefit. Continue reading
Just over one hundred years ago, on May 3, 1911, the Act creating Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation system was signed into law–thereby becoming the first operational worker’s compensation system in the country. The Act solidified the “great compromise” between employers and employees, where employees gave up the right to sue in tort in exchange for well-defined, smaller, and faster benefits without having to prove “fault.” Continue reading