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An affiliate of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

CREE, Inv. v. LIRC

Court: Wisconsin Supreme Court
Appeal No.: 2019AP1671
Status: Case Closed
WMC Involvement: Amicus

On March 10, 2022, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision in Cree, Inc. v. LIRC. Previously, WMC filed multiple amicus briefs in support of Cree. By a 4-3 vote, the Supreme Court concluded that Cree had lawfully declined to hire a job applicant based on his criminal convictions for domestic violence because those convictions “substantially related” to the job for which he applied. The court explained that “the substantial relationship test requires that the employer show that the facts, events, and conditions surrounding the convicted offense materially relate to the facts, events, and conditions surrounding the job.” The court noted that this is “a practical test which employers can reliably apply without a full-blown factual hearing.”


This case concerns an employer’s ability to protect itself and its workers. In this case, a job applicant sued a business because, he alleged, it unlawfully refused to hire him due to his criminal record. His record included numerous convictions for physical and sexual violence against women. Under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, an employer may refuse to hire an applicant based on his conviction record if the circumstances of his offenses “substantially relate” to the circumstances of the position sought. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled against the business in this case, reasoning that the job applicant’s convictions involved domestic violence and therefore were unrelated to the workplace. The Wisconsin Supreme Court granted the business’s petition for review.

WMC filed an amicus brief in support of the business in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. WMC argued that there is a correlation between domestic violence and workplace violence. WMC further argued that the “substantial relationship” standard gives businesses flexibility so they can protect their workers from a job applicant with a history of violence.