The HR Specialist: Michigan Employment Law

Because employees have to meet tight deadlines for most employment discrimination claims, employers should be ready to prove exactly when they notified employees about a pending termination. With an exact date at your fingertips, you can easily get a case dismissed …

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Employers, beware: More employees are suing over so-called association discrimination, claiming their friendships or other relationships with black employees have resulted in discrimination against them, in addition to their acquaintances. Recently, the 6th Circuit came up with guidelines for when employees can sue based on their relationships with black employees.

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When it comes to discharging employees for alleged dishonesty, here’s some sound advice for managers and supervisors: Don’t discuss why the employee was terminated with anyone who doesn’t need to know. Keep the information private to avoid a possible defamation lawsuit.

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Employees who’ve been fired have little to lose—and they’re quite likely to see a lawyer about possible litigation. Right off the bat, you can expect that attorney to check whether the employer conducted a real investigation before making the termination decision.

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Health care is rapidly becoming one of Michigan’s largest and most stable employment sectors. Health care employers are subject to many additional employment regulations than employers in other industries. That fact was driven home by a recent regulatory change implemented by HHS, providing a new level of protection to employees who work for health care providers—the so-called conscientious objector rule.

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Patrick Morrissey worked for Steelcase Inc., which provided him with two cell phones, one for business and another for personal use. Both billing statements were sent to his boss, Brent Golembieski, because Steelcase paid both bills …

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The Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth is one step closer to implementing workplace ergonomic standards that will apply to most businesses in the state. Most Michigan employers should plan now to comply. Only agriculture, construction, mining and domestic workers would be exempt from the new rules.

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In its 1998 collective-bargaining agreement, Caterpillar promised to provide retiree health benefits to its workers at no cost to them. By 2005, Caterpillar recognized it could no longer provide the health benefits without the retirees chipping in. When labor and management sat down at the table to hammer out a new agreement, retiree health costs was one of the sticking points …

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If you work for an educational institution whose students provide services while learning, prepare to change your payroll systems. Depending how a court rules, you may have to end the practice of paying student stipends as a way of avoiding collection and payment of Social Security and other payroll taxes.

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New FMLA regulations went into effect in January. Now is an excellent time to offer everyone in management a refresher course in what the FMLA requires. If managers remain ignorant of the new rules—or the old ones still in place—you increase the risk that an employee will charge them with willful violations.

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