Do municipal employees have a right to their jobs?
Generally speaking, no. Wisconsin municipal employees are generally classified as “at will” employees. In the absence of a civil service ordinance or law, contract, or collective bargaining agreement stating otherwise, municipal employees may be fired at the will of the municipality. See State ex rel. Epping v. City of Neillsville, 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, the employee may only be discharged according 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 by statute when seeking to terminate a police officer. See Wis. Stat. §§ 62.13(5), 62.13(6m), & 61.65(1)(am).