Help during COVID-19

Offering Compassionate Legal Counsel During These Uncertain Times

The spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is having significant implications for all of life’s legal challenges. Rizzo & Diersen is offering a variety of on-demand legal services designed to address your needs during this outbreak. For individuals, we can use Efile to file any court action that cannot be done in person at this time. For employers, we can address your questions and represent you as employment challenges impact your business and employees.

Legal Services for the Individual

• Assistance with filing for a Divorce

• Filing Family Court actions

• Estate Planning, Financial Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney

• Chapter 7 & Chapter 13 bankruptcy

• Termination of Employment

• Online ticket disputing

Legal Services for Business

• Understanding what The Families First Coronavirus Response Act means for your business

• Maneuvering and understanding Federal and State Unemployment procedures

• Handling contract issues during a pandemic

• Bankruptcy and reorganizations

• Business planning and longevity

Rizzo & Diersen can help provide peace of mind during these difficult times with flat fees and customized legal services not previously offered. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, call 262-652-5050

COVID-19 Landlord and Tenant FAQs


Q: My tenant is not paying rent, am I able to evict them?

A: Governor Evers implemented Emergency Order 15: A Temporary Ban on Evictions and Foreclosures. This order has altered the remedies available to landlords for a period of time. Currently, all evictions are suspended until May 27, 2020. Landlords are unable to begin the eviction process despite non-payment of rent by a tenant. There is an exception to this new rule: an eviction that is not based on failure to pay rent accompanied by a reasonable belief of imminent harm to another person. If a landlord has a reasonable belief, supported by affidavit, that a failure to proceed with the eviction will result in an imminent threat of serious physical harm to another person, then they may proceed with an eviction.

Q: Does this order apply to only residential landlords?

A: No, the order applies to both commercial and residential landlords.

Q: Can my tenants simply stop paying rent during this time?

A: A tenant my choose to stop paying rent at this time. However, the emergency order does not absolve them of their responsibilities as a tenant under their lease. During the stay on evictions and notices, a tenant is still responsible for rent, utilities, and all other obligations specified in the lease. If a tenant stops paying rent, make sure to maintain your records, inform the tenant they are behind, and request payment. If the tenant is behind on rent at the end of the emergency stay, then you can proceed with an eviction.

Q: If my tenant does not pay rent, can I still serve them with a notice?

A: No, the stay on evictions is extended to serving a notice. The best thing to do at this time is to try and work with your tenants. This is a difficult time for everyone, being thoughtful and understanding at this time can bolster your property’s image and reputation.

Q: What about the evictions that have already been filed?

A: COVID-19 has brought court proceedings across Wisconsin to a halt. The order does not dismiss or terminate your previously filed eviction, it just delays the proceedings. Make sure to check in on your current cases with your respective courts to see if or when your hearings have been rescheduled.

Q: Has the order affected writs of eviction?

A: Yes. The stay on evictions and notices extends to writs. At this time, no new writs are being issued, and those that have been sent to the sheriff’s office are not being executed. In many cases, if you have already sent the deposits in, they will be refunded upon your request.

Emergency Order 15 issued by Governor Evers has affected landlords and tenants across Wisconsin. With the uncertainty of COVID-19, it is important to stay informed on potential new orders issued by the Government. If you need additional advice or have questions about your rights and remedies as a landlord during this time, please contact Rizzo & Diersen, S.C.


Q: Do I still have to pay rent?

A: Order 15 has stayed all evictions and notices by landlords to tenants. However, you are still responsible for the rent under your lease agreement. If you do not pay rent now, once the stay on evictions is lifted, you may receive an eviction notice from your landlord. If you are struggling to pay rent during these trying times, contact your landlord to see if you can work something out.

Q: I just received an eviction notice from may landlord, what do I do?

A: Due to Governor Evers Emergency Order 15, this notice is not valid. All notices of eviction for failure to pay rent and evictions have been stayed until May 27, 2020. If you received this notice, it is prudent to contact your landlord or community manager to discuss setting up a payment plan or explain your situation.

Q: What if I am already in the middle of an eviction proceeding? Is my eviction no longer allowed?

A: Most courts have pushed back proceedings several months due to Emergency Order 15 and the Safer at Home Order. However, the cases that have been filed prior to the issuance of the order will not be dismissed by the courts and will proceed when the Orders issued by the Governor allow. Be sure to check with the court in which your case was filed to stay updated on your new court dates.

FAQ: Unemployment Benefits Due to COVID-19

According to the latest unemployment projections from the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the COVID-19 emergency is likely to cost 47 million jobs and push the unemployment rate above 30%. Unsurprisingly, the number of unemployment claims filed has reached historic levels. For the week ending on March 21, a record 3.3 million Americans filed initial jobless claims with an estimated 2.65 million to follow in the next week. The various state departments of unemployment are overwhelmed with claims and Wisconsin is no exception. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, which handles unemployment claims in the State, reported that a typical week the number of calls it receives is roughly 24,000. However, during this emergency, the Department reported it is now receiving a staggering 1.5 million calls per week. Since March 15th, Wisconsin unemployment filings reached nearly 222,000, compared to roughly 13,000 filing during the same time last year. As a result, many Wisconsinites have questions about the unemployment process. This article will address many of the frequently asked questions.

Question One: Am I Eligible for Unemployment If I Have Been Laid Off Due to the Coronavirus?

Generally, yes. Wisconsin unemployment benefits are available to any worker who is unemployed through no fault of his own. Many employers are unable to operate during this time due to Governor Ever’s March 24th Safer-At-Home Order. In response, many employers are reducing their workforce on a temporary basis with the intention of hiring back its employees once the emergency concludes. Regardless of the exact language used – furloughed, laid off, terminated, fired, etc. – employees are eligible for unemployment benefits if they are unemployed through no fault of their own.

Question Two: My Employer Has Not Fired Me But My Workplace Is Closed And I Have No Hours to Work, Am I Eligible for Unemployment?

Assuming you meet the monetary criteria and weekly eligibility requirement, you will be eligible for unemployment. If you are unemployed through no fault of your own, you are eligible for benefits in the State of Wisconsin. An employer does not need to formally fire an employee for the employee to be eligible for unemployment. Where an employer has no hours for you to work and the business is closed due to the coronavirus, you will be eligible for unemployment as if you had been formally fired. Even those workers who have had their hours reduced, but are still working, may be eligible for unemployment in certain circumstances.

Question Three: I Am Self-Quarantining Due to the Coronavirus, Will I Be Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

Generally, no. To receive unemployment benefits, an individual must be unemployed through no fault of his or her own. While many businesses have been closed due to the coronavirus, many essential services continue to operate. If your workplace remains open and has hours for you to work, you will likely not be eligible for unemployment benefits while you self-quarantine.

While you may not be eligible for unemployment benefits, the federal government has provided relief to workers suffering from the coronavirus. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) goes into effect on April 2nd. Among other provisions, it provides for Emergency Paid Sick Leave for most workers affected by the coronavirus. This Act now allows an eligible employee to take paid sick leave because the employee is:

  1. Subject to a federal, state or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. Advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  3. Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking medical diagnosis;
  4. Caring for an individual subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order or advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  5. Caring for the employee’s child if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the child’s care provider is unavailable due to public health emergency; or
  6. Experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

If an employee meets any of these categories, the employer will be responsible for providing 80 hours of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate or two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate if the employee falls under categories 4, 5, or 6 above. This paid sick leave provision will remain in effect until December 31, 2020.

Question Four: I Am Sick At Home With the Coronavirus, Will I Be Eligible For Unemployment Benefits?

No. Eligible unemployment applicants must be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking suitable work. If you are so ill that you are unable to work, you would not meet these criteria. However, you should be aware that you may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you have subject to a mandatory quarantine by federal, state or local government.

Irrespective of the individual’s unemployment benefit eligibility, he or she may still be covered under existing laws concerning sick leave including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Also, as stated above, the FFCRA provides coronavirus-related paid sick leave effective April 2nd.

Question Five: With So Many Businesses Temporarily Closing Due to Coronavirus, Am I Required to Look For Work to Receive Unemployment Benefits?

The normal requirement to receive unemployment benefits in Wisconsin is that the individual must complete 4 work search actions per week. However, by Executive Order of Governor Evers on March 18th, the work search requirement has been waived for the duration of the coronavirus emergency.

Question Six: Is There Any Additional Unemployment Assistance Available In Response to the Coronavirus Emergency?

The federal government has enacted legislation that provides additional unemployment assistance to the unemployed. The Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act has received much attention due to the direct payments provision which provides up to $1,200 in direct cash payment to applicable Americans. However, the relief bill also extends additional coverage to the States for its unemployed individuals. Qualifying individuals may receive up to an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits, above and in excess of any state provided benefits, for the next four months (ending on July 31, 2020). In Wisconsin, most persons receive the state weekly maximum benefit of $340 per week. With the federal stimulus bill, you may receive an additional $600 per week, or $940 per week total in unemployment benefits.

Additionally, federal law may extend existing benefits. Under Wisconsin law, unemployment benefits are provided for a maximum of 26 weeks. However, the federal relief bills may extend unemployment benefits beyond existing limits to qualifying states – up to an additional 26 weeks. At this time, it has not been determined if Wisconsin qualifies for extended benefits, but if so, it may provide additional relief to those economically affected by the coronavirus.


This article has sought to provide answers to commonly asked questions regarding unemployment benefits in Wisconsin during this challenging time. Governments continue to aggressively monitor and address challenges faced by the Coronavirus and we may expect to see additional remedial legislation and updates in the future. For legal advice regarding unemployment benefits, or for any other employment law issues you may be facing, please contact us 262-652-5050 for a free consultation.