Agency Primer by IRG:
Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development
DWD in its current form was established in 1996. Previous iterations included the Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations (DILHR) (1967-1996) and the Wisconsin Industrial Commission from 1911 – 1966. Prior to 1911 it was the Wisconsin Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In 1911, Wisconsin became the first state to pass a constitutionally valid Worker’s Compensation program, putting in place the “grand bargain” for workplace injuries. The grand bargain is a no fault system under which injured workers are entitled to medical care and lost wages for workplace injuries, but are also prohibited from filing lawsuits against employers in most instances.
In 1932, Wisconsin was the first state to create an unemployment insurance program to assist workers who lost their jobs. The program, like worker’s compensation, was mirrored in every state over the next few decades. Today, the department still runs these programs. It also handles other workplace issues, such as equal rights claims, wage claims, Family and Medical leave oversight, and job training for various populations, including veterans and those with disabilities.
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