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Detroit Employment Law Blog

Woman alleges wrongful termination and discrimination

There are certain facets of employment law in Michigan that employees and employers must be aware of to avoid an accusation of wrongful termination. It is not unusual for employers to dismiss an employee for no viable reason and do so as a form of retaliation. What many former employees are not aware of is that they may have the right to pursue compensation if they are able to prove that the dismissal was not due to a legal reason and was instead an unlawful retaliatory act. To understand whether a case falls into this category, it is important to get legal advice.

A former employee of a resort community has filed a lawsuit alleging that she lost her job because she reported several violations. Included were various forms of discrimination, the mismanagement of money donated to the community and emotional distress having been inflicted. The former executive director was the main focus of these allegations. He retired in October of 2015 after approximately five years on the job. The plaintiff, 71, claims that the incidents occurred while she was a part-time worker as the director of development between July of 2012 and November of 2014.

Employment discrimination and pre-employment inquiries

Violations of the rights of employees in Michigan and across the U.S. is often viewed through the microscope of people who are already employed, have lost their job or are engaged in some form of dispute about their employment. However, the law covers a wide variety of issues including what employers are allowed to ask prospective employees who are applying for a particular job. Employment discrimination can extend to the recruitment, inquiries, gathering of information and judgment of qualifications. Those who believe their employee rights have been violated have the right to seek compensation in a legal filing.

With pre-employment inquiries, it is against the law for an employer to ask questions that will gather information about the religion, age, sex, national origin, disability, height, weight and color of a prospective employee. This can be the foundation for religious discrimination, racial discrimination or other forms of employment discrimination. For the job description, the employers are encouraged to have a detailed list of what the job entails and the requirements for employees to complete it. Certain pieces of information that are illegal to ask beforehand might be necessary once the job is given to an applicant. This can include marital status.

The effect of lateness on hourly pay in Michigan

Some employers in Michigan that compensate their employees via hourly pay might take liberties on compensating those employees if they happen to come to work late or commit other workplace violations. Understanding what employers can and cannot do in terms of docking an employee who arrives and punches in on the time clock late is important, because in some circumstances these violations could form the basis to pursue a wage claim. An employee cannot have his or her wages docked as discipline for lateness. All wages that the employee is due should be paid.

When time records are calculated, they must be done to the nearest one-tenth of an hour which comes to six minutes. There could be a finer method of measurement. The employer must make certain that the employee is doing work when they clock in. There are deductions that can be made based on a collective bargaining agreement if the situation is applicable, but apart from that, the employer cannot deduct wages in an indirect or direct manner without the employee consenting to it. There cannot be any intimidation tactics or fear for dismissal if the employee chooses not to allow for the deduction.

Union found to have violated employment law in Michigan

Michigan employees who are part of a union will have the right to believe that their interests are being protected by their union representation. However, there are certain times at which the union is mistreating the same workers its mandated is to protect. It can be a difficult circumstance for employees to understand the various aspects of employment law, especially when the retaliation might be coming from an entity that is meant to help them. In such cases when there is a belief that something illegal is occurring from the union perspective, having legal help is key.

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that a union that represents Michigan workers violated the law. According to the ruling, the president of the Michigan State Employees Association (MSEA) committed several violations in its actions. The union is basically a union within another union known as the Central Office Staff Association (COSA). Employees at the central office had been subjected to wrongful termination and it was the decision on the part of the NLRB -- on a two-to-one basis -- that these workers receive back pay, benefits and seniority that had been lost. The initial decision against the union came via an administrative law judge three years ago. When the union appealed, the decision was even more pronounced against COSA.

How unemployment compensation can stop in Michigan

Employees who lose their jobs in Michigan may be under the impression that they will receive unemployment compensation. However, there are certain rules in the state that dictate the providing of benefits. It is important for workers who have lost their jobs and are expecting to receive unemployment to understand what can stop the benefits. The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) will accrue the necessary information to make a decision.

There are numerous reasons why an employee might be disqualified from receiving benefits. For example, quitting by one's own volition without a good reason that can be attributable to the employer or retiring voluntarily may lead to a disqualification. An employee may also be disqualified if he or she was dismissed for misconduct that was linked to the work, dismissed due to being intoxicated at work, was placed on suspension for disciplinary reasons, was laid off for misconduct, was dismissed because of absence due to being imprisoned or convicted, was dismissed for discipline due to taking part in a wildcat strike or was dismissed for theft.

Suspended flight attendant files religious discrimination lawsuit

Employees in Michigan come from various places and have a wide range of beliefs. When they are working, they have the right to exercise their beliefs without having to worry about their employee rights being violated by employer protestation or biases. However, it is a reality that certain instances of workplace discrimination sometimes occur. Those who are facing it might not know their rights or where to turn for help in protecting them. This is when consulting an attorney about religious discrimination may be beneficial.

For example, a flight attendant who happens to be a Muslim garnered headlines in the summer of 2015 when her airline suspended her because she refused to serve alcohol, as her religion prohibits her to do. In 2013, she was hired by the airline. She had also converted to Islam and, at the time, was not aware that she was prohibited from serving alcohol as one of the religion's tenets. Because of that, she worked the situation out with her supervisor in a way that she did not have to serve alcohol. This arrangement was successful.

Employee rights and prohibited conduct under freedom to work

Michigan workers need to know that they have certain rights under the law while at work. Many might know about minimum wage laws, whether or not they are entitled to certain break times, and their right to have sick days and overtime. However, there are other protections, too, including what are known as "freedom to work" laws. This particular post will discuss freedom to work as it relates to the private sector.

Employees have the right to engage in, or refrain from, certain activities while employed or as a contingency of employment. Employees have the right, and protection from retaliation, if they organize and take part in a labor organization, take part in activities for collective negotiating and bargaining, and negotiate and bargain with employers using representatives of their choosing.

Michigan whistleblower case allowed to move forward

In Michigan and across the country, there are instances where an employee finds out about wrongdoing at the workplace and decides to take action to stop it. This, however, can put their employment status in jeopardy, sometimes violating their employee rights and resulting in unlawful retaliation or wrongful termination. When this happens, it is important that an employee is fully aware of his or her ability to seek legal protection and be compensated for any damages suffered.

In a high profile case involving two former state representatives who were having an affair and tried to cover it up by sending provocative emails to other members of their political party, two former aides alleged that their reporting of the activities are protected under the whistleblower statute. It was ruled by a judge that they are able to move forward with their lawsuit. The judge stated that their behavior was protected because they reported violations of both state law and rules of the Michigan House of Representatives.

How does compensatory time relate to an overtime claim?

Employees in Michigan who do not receive overtime when they are supposed to need to understand their rights to lodge a complaint and receive their unpaid overtime. Not receiving overtime is an example of a denial of benefits, and it is against the law. That said, there is also compensatory time that employers can give to employees in lieu of wages for overtime if certain criteria are met.

Employees who are not subject to a collective bargaining agreement can receive compensatory time if they choose to do so. For this law to be applicable, the employer and employee must be covered under the Workforce Opportunity Wage Act. Those not covered by this law are unable to take part in this option. The employer must allow the employee who takes compensatory time to have a minimum of 10 paid days of leave each year along with the compensatory time. If this is not the case, compensatory time is not possible. For employees who are not working under a CBA, he or she must enter into the compensatory time option willingly and without coercion, intimidation or as a requirement for employment. For every hour of overtime, there must be 1.5 hours of compensatory time and compensatory time off given. It is not legal for the compensatory time to surpass 240 hours. If it does, then the employee must receive overtime pay.

Woman files lawsuit for employee rights violation

There are certain rights that workers in Michigan expect to have in the workplace, and the law seeks to protect these rights. This applies to a wide variety of issues, too. Employee rights encompasses freedom from illegal workplace discrimination, unfair denial of benefits, protection for retaliation, and more. Those who have had their rights violated, been deprived of income, or even been terminated because of protestations that illegal acts perpetrated against them have the right to pursue compensation via a legal filing.

To serve as an example, a woman who worked for a local big-box retailer has filed a lawsuit alleging that she did not receive the proper accommodations to use a breast pump as she was breastfeeding her child. The woman states that the company did not provide her with a location to do what was necessary and was forced to use a bathroom and later a computer server room. The latter had a surveillance camera located inside. She seeks more than $25,000 in her case. In addition, she asserts that she was discriminated against based on her gender, her privacy was violated, and there was intentional infliction of emotional distress.