The HR Specialist: Michigan Employment Law

A Michigan employer has learned a tough lesson: Ignore the U.S. Department of Labor at your peril. Its employees won their lawsuit—even though they had no proof of wrongdoing—simply because the employer ignored the DOL’s request for records and failed to show up in court.

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When two workers complained to two co-workers that their employer wasn’t providing protective gear while they installed insulation, it started a chain of events that led to their firings.

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Laid off or fired employees often have to resort to bankruptcy when their economic situations tank. What they often forget, however, is that they must list in that bankruptcy filing any pending litigation that could net them cash. If they don’t, and their debts are discharged, they can be barred from suing you.

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The FMLA grants eligible employees the right to take time off to deal with their own or a covered relative’s serious health condition. What has been unclear until now is what happens when an employee rushes to the emergency room believing a true medical emergency exists, only to find out that the condition was less serious than originally believed.

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There’s a silver lining to the rising number of employment lawsuits: Courts are losing patience with applicants, employees and former employees who file discrimination lawsuits that have no basis in reality. Recently, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals approved sanctions against such employees and their attorneys.

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Shortly before Genesee County reorganized Dennis Goodman’s department, Goodman, a white motor pool administrator, received an e-mail containing an alleged racially biased remark. When the re-org happened, Goodman lost his job. He filed suit under Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, alleging racism caused his termination …

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An administrative law judge has ruled the township of Leoni violated the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA) when it terminated Benjamin Brzezinski for refusing to enter a sewer he felt was unsafe.

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Employees who take FMLA leave are entitled to return to their former jobs, or at least equivalent ones in terms of pay, responsibilities and the like. Ignoring that requirement and making job changes is the quickest way to an FMLA lawsuit.

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Pay disparities between men and women are in the news. Here’s how to find out whether you’re in danger of being sued: Take all your employees working in the same classification, divide them into male and female groups and then determine each sex’s average salary.

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When racism raises its ugly head at work, employers must do two things. First, make sure everyone understands your company policy prohibits any form of harassment, including that of a racial nature. Then punish anyone caught violating that policy. And if racist graffiti is involved, remove the graffiti as soon as possible.

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