William R. Rettko

Top rated Employment & Labor attorney in Brookfield, Wisconsin

Rettko Law Offices SC
William R. Rettko
Rettko Law Offices SC

Practice Areas: Employment & Labor, Civil Rights, Business Litigation; view more

Licensed in Wisconsin since: 1989

Education: Drake University Law School

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2005

Rettko Law Offices SC

15460 West Capitol Drive
Suite 150
Brookfield, WI 53005 Visit website


A highly-regarded civil trial attorney, William R. Rettko is the founder of Rettko Law Offices, S.C. From the firm’s offices in Brookfield, Wisconsin, he provides representation to clients throughout the greater Milwaukee metropolitan area. Admitted to practice in Wisconsin since 1989, Mr. Rettko is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin as well as before the Supreme Court of the United States.

The primary portion of Mr. Rettko’s practice consists of his providing advice and counsel to current, former and prospective employees. He has represented clients who have been the victims of discrimination that is prohibited by various laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. He has also represented people who have been wrongfully terminated or who have been retaliated against in some other manner. In addition, Mr. Rettko has handled disputes arising under the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

Mr. Rettko’s clients have included police officers in cases involving infringement of their civil rights, and he has represented law enforcement unions in collective bargaining matters. Outside of the employment area, his trial experience has included insurance bad faith claims and general business litigation. Mr. Rettko’s successful track record in all of these endeavors has earned him a great deal of recognition from his fellow members of the bar, including an “Excellent” peer review rating through Avvo, and he is also a member of the invitation-only Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Mr. Rettko holds a Master of Business Administration from Drake University and a Juris Doctor from Drake University Law School.

Practice areas

Employment & Labor: Employee, Civil Rights, Business Litigation

Focus areas

Americans with Disabilities Act, Disability, Discrimination, Employment Law - Employee, Non-Compete Agreements, Race Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Trade Secret, Whistleblower

  • 60% Employment & Labor: Employee
  • 30% Civil Rights
  • 10% Business Litigation

First Admitted: 1989, Wisconsin

Professional Webpage: https://www.rettkolaw.com/attorney/rettko-william-r/

Representative Clients:
  • Counsel for the: Milwaukee Police Supervisors' Organization; Mequon Police Association; West Bend Supervisors' Association; Cedarburg Police Officer's Association; Grafton Professional Police Association; Shorewood Police Association; Ozaukee Deputy Sheriffs' Association; and Wauwatosa Police Supervisors Association
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin, 1989
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 2002 
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin, 1989
  • Wisconsin, 1989
Pro bono/Community Service:
  • Guesthouse -- Serve and donate meals-2013-Present
  • Christ King - Finance Council - 2016-Present
  • Eagle Football - Coach - 2005-2006
  • Christ King Basketball - Coach - 2003-2005, 2008-2010
  • Christ King Parish - Legal Representation, 2017
  • Confirmation Teacher - Christ King Parish - 2015-2016
  • Tosa Baseball - Coach - 2002-2003 and 2006-2007
  • Junior Hilltoppers - Coach - 2009
  • Knights of Columbus, 2016
  • CYM Basketball Coach-2012-2014
  • Christ King Parish Council - 2016-Present
  • Cyclone Football - Coach - 2008
  • Tosa Rec Basketball - Coach - 2003, 2008
  • Smith v. Wisc Dept of Corrections - In 2016 received an award for terminated social worker with the Wisc DOC by proving the DOC had no basis for termination in March 2015. The award consisted of complete back pay and benefits lost, together with actual attorney fees.
  • Represented a City of Milwaukee Police Captain in a federal discrimination lawsuit and prevailed on a motion for summary judgment. The case is currently awaiting trial.
  • Represented an employee in a federal counter claim lawsuit against his former employer (a Fortune 500 corporation) for interference of contract and defended employee in the corporation’s breach of contract claim against him, a case that settled in January 2021 after prevailing on employee’s motion for summary judgment.
  • Represented a Village of Greendale Police Sergeant along with a Greendale dispatcher in a discrimination/ADA retaliation claim. In 2019, reached a confidential after prevailing on a motion for summary judgment.
  • Kubicek v. Milwaukee County, In August 2018, represented former county  employee at trial in a promissory estoppel case whereby the County denied employee retirement benefits claiming he did not qualify for their Rule of 75, and prevailed on a jury verdict whereby employee was able to collect the promised benefits as opposed to waiting an additional 8 years to reach the age of 60 to collect those benefits.
  • Will Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Silkscreening By Will v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Case No. 99-CV-009877.  Represented Silkscreening By Will and received a Jury Verdict on May 23, 2003 in favor of the plaintiffs in the total amount of $550,349.92 based on the plaintiff's bad faith claim on the defendant's handling of their fire damage claim.  The verdict included: $67,639 for building repair, $2500 for personal property of customers, $25,500 for debris removal, $160,000 for attorney fees and costs, and $250,000 for punitive damages with prejudgment interest of $44,710.92.
  • Represented an individual in a defamation lawsuit obtaining a 6 figure settlement, 2013
  • In the Matter of Charges Filed Against Captain Stanley Kay.  In March - April 2006, on behalf of the Cudahy Professional Police Association, a hearing was conducted with the Cudahy Board of Police and Fire Commissioners (PFC) on charges filed by the union against Captain Stanley Kay for violating various rules of the Cudahy Police Department in nine different incidents.  On April 19, 2006, the Cudahy PFC found that Captain Kay violated department rules on at least two occasions, but refused to take any disciplinary action finding that Captain Kay had not been given an opportunity by the union to explain his conduct before filing its charges, nor had the union conducted any kind of formal investigation.  The matter was then appealed to Milwaukee County Circuit Court Case No. 06-CV-004072 on the basis that the PFC acted on an incorrect theory of law by requiring the union to confront Captain Kay and conduct a formal investigation of charges before filing charges with the PFC.  On August 16, 2006, the Milwaukee County Circuit Court entered a decision requiring the Cudahy PFC to consider discipline against Captain Kay because the union, much like a citizen, is not required to confront the accused or conduct any formal investigation, but is only required to prove its case with the PFC which it had done on two incidents.  
  • Ozaukee County v. Labor Association of Wisconsin, 2008 WI App 174.  This matter was challenged on behalf of the Labor Association of Wisconsin,  who opposed the Sheriff's request for declaration that his assignments to teams designated for transporting Federal and State prisoners to and from the Ozaukee County Jail fell within the Sheriff's constitutional authority regardless of the union's collective bargaining agreement requiring assignments on seniority.  On appeal, it was found that the Sheriff's assignments were outside of his constitutional authority and that all assignments would have to be made in conjunction with all collective bargaining agreement requirements. 
  • Schlender v. Boulder Junction Charcoal Grill, Eastern District of Wisconsin Case #05-C-0618.Represented Boulder Junction Charcoal Grill in defending against a discrimination claim brought by the plaintiff.  On April 9, 2008, obtained a jury verdict in favor of Boulder Junction dismissing plaintiff's complaint.
  • In the Matter of the Petition of Cedarburg Police Officer's Association Involving Certain Employees of the City of Cedarburg.  On August 30, 2011, in follow up to a hearing on June 7, 2011, obtained a decision from the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission defeating the City's efforts to get the position of Police Sergeant and Detective Sergeant classified as supervisors pursuant to Section 111.70(1)(o) Wis. Stats.  This decision allowed those Sergeants to remain in the police association and be included in the association's collective bargaining unit.
  • Milwaukee Police Association v. City of Milwaukee, 2002 WI App 43, 250 Wis.2d 676, 641 N.W.2d 709.  Represented the Milwaukee Police Association (MPA) who contested the City's refusal to arbitrate the denial of Officers Rod Gustafson and Javier Cornejo's grievances that their transfers from the Tactical Enforcement Unit to night shift patrol duty was in violation of the MPA's collective Bargaining Agreement Article 7 and Article 55 as the transfers were in violation of the officers' First Amendment right of free speech.  The Milwaukee County Circuit Court first ruled that the matter was "not procedurally arbitrable."  However, the Court of Appeals found the matter was arbitrable.  The case was settled in July 2002 when both Officers Rod Gustafson and Javier Cornejo were transferred back to the Tactical Enforcement Unit.   
  • Represented a terminated manager in the financial industry in an age discrimination lawsuit obtaining a settlement of $600,000, 2014
  • Morales v. Jones, 494 F.3d 590 (7th Cir. 2007).  On November 18, 2005, while representing the plaintiffs Detective Lieutenant Alfonso Morales and Detective David Kolatski, obtained a jury verdict of $20,000 for compensatory damages for each plaintiff, and $65,000 each in punitive damages for each plaintiff against the City of Milwaukee's Police Chief Arthur Jones and Deputy Chief Monica Ray for violating the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights of free speech when they acted to transfer the plaintiffs out of the Vice Squad to night shift patrol duty.  The defendants appealed and on July 17, 2007, the 7th Circuit reversed the verdict in favor of David Kolatski due to the subsequent holding in Garcetti v. Cebalos, and remanded the Morales' claim back to District Court for a re-trial.  see Morales v. Jones, 494 F.3d 590 (7th Cir. 2007).  The case settled in August 2008 for $112,000. 
  • Miller v. Jones, 444 F.3d 929 (7th Cir. 2006), followed by Miller v. Jones, 2007 WL 2916553 (E.D. Wis.).  In August 2008 settled plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claim against the City of Milwaukee and Police Chief Arthur Jones for $160,000.  The plaintiff's claim was based on First Amendment retaliation alleging that the defendants violated plaintiff's free speech rights when he spoke out against certain requests made of the Chief that the Police Athletic League merge with the Boys and Girls Club.  It was further alleged by plaintiff that in retaliation for his opposition to the Chief's requests, the Chief caused the Police Athletic League's Board to remove plaintiff from continuing on as its executive director.
  • Represented the Mequon Police Association on its collective bargaining agreement for the 2009-2010 contract.  In January 2009, was able to successfully, negotiate a 4% wage increase for all members of the association for 2009 and 2010. 
  • Abegglen v. Town of Beloit, United States Western District Court Case No. 10-CV-110. On May 12, 2011, a jury verdict was rendered for Willis Abegglen (former Deputy Police Chief) in the amount of $5,300 in lost wages and benefits; $19,000 in the present value of future wages and health benefits, together with $200,000 in emotional distress.  A jury verdict was also rendered for Mary Abegglen (court clerk) in the amount of $37,000 in lost wages and benefits; $84,000 in the present value of future wages and health insurance, together with $150,000 in emotional distress. In addition, punitive damages were assessed in favor of the plaintiffs against former Police Chief John Wilson in the amount of $500,000 and former Town Administrator Robert Musues in the amount of $500,000. This judgment together with an award of attorney fees and costs totalled $1,810,968.64 as entered on August 16, 2011.
  • Gustafson v. Jones, 290 F.3d 895 (7th Cir. 2002).  On January 24, 2000, received a jury verdict in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin while representing the plaintiffs who were Milwaukee Police Officers Rod Gustafson and Javier Cornejo against the City of Milwaukee, Deputy Inspector Arthur Jones and Police Chief Philip Arreola as a result of defendants' retaliatory transfer of Gustafson and Cornejo off of the Tactical Enforcement Unit to night shift patrol duty in violation of the officers' First Amendment right of free speech.The award was $10,000 for each plaintiff in emotional distress, $180,000 for each plaintiff in punitive damages, and $23,171.05 in interest from date of verdict to payment on July, 2002.  In addition, attorney fees and costs in the total amount of $269,944.10 was awarded.  Making the total award of $696,286.20.
  • Kraemer v. City of Pewaukee, et al., Case No. 07-C-0337, United States Eastern District of Wisconsin. Represented plaintiff Robert Kraemer in a First Amendment retaliation, Title VII, ADA, Section 1983 lawsuit against Police Chief Gary Bach and various members of the Pewaukee Police Department, Mayor and Common Council. In this case, Kraemer alleged he was retaliated against for his activity in opposing derogatory comments made by the police chief against female employees and minority groups and further alleged the retaliation resulted in his permanent disability as a police officer. The case settled for $300,000.
  • Alexander v. City of Milwaukee, 474 F.3d 437 (7th Cir. 2007).  Obtained a Jury Verdict on March 29, 2005 for the plaintiffs who were 17 white male Lieutenants of the Milwaukee Police Department against the City of Milwaukee, Police Chief Arthur Jones, and Police and Fire Commissioners Woody Welch, Carla Y. Cross, Eric Johnson, Leonard Sobczak, and Ernesto Baca.  More specifically, the jury found that the defendants discriminated against Lts. Steven Alexander, Keith Balash, Charles Berard, Micheal Brunow, James Cleveland, Joseph Farina, John Malloy Hagen, William Heinen, Wayne Jensen, Thomas Klusman, Edward Liebrecht, Ronald Quackenbush, Anthony Smith, Steven Spingola, Kim Stack, David Vahl, and Michael Young during the promotional process for Captain of Police.  All acts of discrimination by the defendants were found to be in violation of 42 U.S.C. sec. 1981, 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983, and Title VII.  Then on April 5, 2005, the jury awarded total compensatory damages to the 17 plaintiffs in the amount of $464,500 and total punitive damages of $1,734,000 or $102,000 for each plaintiff.  This was followed by the District Court awarding a total past and future wage loss to the 17 plaintiffs on August 29, 2005 in the amount of $1,540,483.  Then on February 3, 2006, the District Court denied all defendant motions after verdict and granted plaintiffs $447,701 in attorney fees and costs. The defendants appealed to the 7th Circuit who on January 18, 2007 upheld all findings of liability, but reversed the award for damages by remanding the matter back to District Court for further proceedings.The case settled in July 2007 for a payment by the defendants to the plaintiffs in the amount of $2.65 million.
  • Gustafson v. Jones, United States District Court Case No. 00-C-1397.  In March 2006, while representing Officer Rod Gustafson and Officer Javier Cornejo settled their continued retaliation lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee, Chief Arthur Jones, Chief Phillip Arreola, and Deputy Chief Monica Ray in the amount $90,000.  This claim set forth various alleged acts of retaliation by the defendants that occurred after the filing of their initial lawsuit in 1994 that was ultimately finalized by the 7th Circuit @ 290 F.3d 895 on May 17, 2002. 
  • In the Matter of the Petition of MILWAUKEE POLICE SUPERVISORS' ORGANIZATION for binding Arbitration involving law enforcement personnel in the employ of the CITY OF MILWAUKEE.  On November 28, 2008, in follow up to an interest arbitration that occurred in May - June 2008, the Milwaukee Police Supervisors' Organization (MPSO) received an arbitration award for its 2004-2006 contract in which it broke the pay parity the City imposed on its ranks with the rank of Detective and certain supervisor ranks of the City's Fire Department.  More specifically, all MPSO members received an across the board wage increase of 3.2% for 2004, 3.4% increase for 2005, and a 3.3% increase for 2006.  In comparison, the City's parity policy would have resulted in a 3% wage increase across the board for the entirety of the 2004-2006 contract.  In addition, the MPSO was awarded a promotional process to make the Police Department's promotional process more transparent for MPSO members by requiring that the department provide MPSO members with information and feedback about their performance in the promotional process all of which the City had previously refused to provide.  Additionally, the MPSO was awarded an annual 1% lump sum payment for its Lieutenants based on their annual base wage earnings for working as Acting Captains.  This was an another item the City previously refused to pay and expected its Lieutenants to perform at the Lieutenant salary.  
  • In the Matter of the Petition of the Milwaukee Police Supervisors' Organization for binding arbitration involving supervisory law enforcement personnel in the employment of the City of Milwaukee. On July 20, 2010 in follow up to an interest arbitration that occurred in January 2010, the Milwaukee Police Supervisors' Organization (MPSO) received an award for its 2007-2009 contract obtaining across the board wage increases of 3% for 2007; 3.25% for 2008; and 3.0% for 2009 after adding $100 to pay period 26 2008 pay rates.  In comparison, the City of Milwaukee argrued for across the board pay increases of 2% in 2007; 1% for the 1st pay period in 2008 with an additional 1% in the 14th pay period in 2008; and a 1% increase for the 1st pay period in 2009 with an additional 1% in the 14th pay period in 2009.
Educational Background:
  • Masters in Business Administration, Drake University - July, 1983
  • B.S.B.A. Drake University. Major Marketing - May, 1982
Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • Current Legal Issues Surrounding Public Safety Employment, Speaker, Major Cities Conference, Los Vegas, NV, 2014
  • , National Trial Lawyers Top 100, National Trial Lawyers Organization, 2021
  • Leading Lawyer, Leading Lawyer Association, 2020
  • Litigator of the Year, American Institute of Trial Lawyers, 2020
  • America's Top 100 Attorneys, America's Top 100 LLC, 2019
  • Honorary Member, Milwaukee Retired Police Association, 2017
  • Pinnacle Professional, Continental Who's Who, 2017
  • 10 Best Attorneys, American Institute of Legal Counsel, 2017
  • Top Attorneys of North America, Who's Who Directories, 2017
  • Elite Lawyer, Elite Lawyers of America, 2016
  • 10 Best Attorneys-Employment & Labor Law, American Institute of Legal Counsel, 2016
  • PrestigiousTrial Lawyer, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, 2015

Office location for William R. Rettko

15460 West Capitol Drive
Suite 150
Brookfield, WI 53005

Phone: 262-783-7200


1 Year Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2005

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