Employees FAQ 10

Do municipal employees have a right to their jobs?
In Wisconsin municipal employees are generally classified as "at will" employees and in the absence of a civil service ordinance or law, or a contract or collective bargaining agreement stating otherwise, may be fired at the will of the municipality. See State ex rel. Epping v. City of Neilsville, 218 Wis.2d 516, 581 N.W.2d 548 552; Vorwald v. School District, 167 Wis.2d 549, 482 N.W.2d 93, 96 (1992). However, a municipal employee may not be fired for discriminatory reasons (e.g., based on race, gender, age, or national origin.)

An employee's at-will status may be altered by contract, state law, or local ordinance.  If the municipality and an employee enter into an expressed or implied contract, any discharge must be done pursuant to the terms of the contract. Certain municipal employees are protected from being fired at the will of the municipality by state laws. For example, municipalities must comply with certain due process procedures specified in the statutes when seeking to terminate a police officer. See secs. 62.13(5), 62.13(6m), and 61.65(1)(am), Wis. Stats.