Tag Archives: discrimination

Employers Cannot Afford to Ignore Even a Single Incident of Workplace Discrimination

A decision issued on October 22, 2015, denying an employer’s motion to dismiss a retaliatory discharge claim brought under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and state anti-discrimination laws offers two important lessons for employers: It is never a good idea to use Hitler, Nazis, or swastikas in your mandatory company seminars; and … Continue Reading

Oy Vey! No Religious Discrimination in Jewish Nurse’s Termination

A recent religious discrimination claim dismissed in favor of an employer offers a number important take-aways for both employers and employees. Specifically, on 7/16/2015 the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a religious discrimination claim brought by a Jewish nurse who had worked for a Missouri medical center. See Shirrell v. St. … Continue Reading

Sexual Orientation Discrimination is Unlawful under Federal Law … For Now?

On July 16, 2015, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a decision confirming that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation violates title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) Title VII is the primary federal statute that prohibits a range of discrimination against employees. This decision marks the first time the … Continue Reading

Should My Business Use an Arbitration Agreement for Employment Disputes?

A frequent question that employers have when it comes to employment contracts and policies is whether the company should use an arbitration procedure for resolving disputes. While there is not a “right or wrong” answer to this question, I tend to recommend employers reconsider using arbitration for resolving employment disputes. Two important factors for recommending … Continue Reading

Discrimination Lawsuits Aren’t Rorschach Tests – They Should Not Be Subject to Interpretation

The Michigan Court of Appeals sent a strong message that employment lawsuits should not be analogous to a Rorschach test, i.e., subject to interpretation. Instead, there are certain fundamental pleading requirements that must be alleged in order to state a claim; Failing to follow these requirements may result in a dismissal of the claim. The decision … Continue Reading

Governor Snyder & Business Leaders Support Amending Michigan Law to Prohibit Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday, May 29, 2014 that he would like to see Michigan lawmakers amend the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include language about sexual orientation and gender identity before the end of the year. These statements were made in an interview with Crain’s Detroit Business, as reported by Chris Gautz. Currently Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil … Continue Reading

Playbook for Addressing Age Discrimination under Michigan and Federal Law

The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals have been one of the surprising success stories this season. One of the reasons for the team’s success is the commitment it made to an older (ancient by NFL standards) coaching staff. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (Kevin Clark), The Cardinals’ Secret: Elderly Coaches, highlights the Cardinal organization’s deliberate … Continue Reading

Study Finds Evidence of Unlawful Discrimination in Using Social Media to Recruit Employees

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (reported on 11/21/2013 by Jennifer DeVries) discussed a study showing bias in the hiring process when social media is used to screen job applicants. Because of the potential for unlawful discrimination and losing out on otherwise qualified job applicants, the article and study should be a “must … Continue Reading

Employer Sued for Allegedly Failing to Produce Employee Personnel Records

Oakland University, a southeast Michigan public university, was sued on November 1, 2013 by its former women’s basketball coach Beckie Francis. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and declaratory relief, as well as seeks to compel Oakland University to produce certain employee records concerning Ms. Francis pursuant to Michigan’s Bullard-Plawecki Employee Right to Know Act. While this … Continue Reading

Avoiding Risks Under Michigan’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act – Five Things to Know

Whistleblower claims routinely make the headlines. And for employers, whistleblower claims increase the chance of liability even in what should be otherwise routine adverse employment decisions. By way of example, a number of years ago, I represented an employer in what should have been a garden variety wrongful discharge lawsuit. However, because of some “unfortunate” … Continue Reading

EEOC Smacked Down in Rare Employer Win in Defending Claim of Unlawful Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was recently smacked down by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in EEOC v Peoplemark, Inc. In that appeal, the Court agreed with a decision from the federal district court out of Western Michigan that awarded an employer its attorney’s fees and expert fees in defending against a discrimination claim brought … Continue Reading

Michigan Court Refuses to Expand Claim for Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy

While maybe not quite as exciting as last night’s fantastic win by the Detroit Tigers, Michigan employers got a great win this week from the Michigan Court of Appeals involving a claim for wrongful termination in violation of a public policy. Specifically, in Irwin v Ciena Health Care Management, Inc. (PDF), a nurse was employed in … Continue Reading

The U.S. Government Shutdown’s Impact on Employers and Employees

I felt like I was watching a New Year’s Eve special last night with all the countdowns to midnight. Unfortunately (or fortunately) there was no Ryan Secrest,no ball dropping, and no confetti. Instead, the count down was for when the government would “officially” shutdown.  Regardless of who you believe should be blamed (I’ll start with … Continue Reading

Employment Agreement Shortening Time for Bringing FLSA and Equal Pay Act Claims Invalidated by Court

On August 6, 2013, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (the federal jurisdiction that includes Michigan) ruled that provisions in employment agreements that shorten the statute of limitations period in which employees are permitted to file claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Equal Pay Act (EPA) are invalid. Specifically, in Boaz v … Continue Reading

Michigan Supreme Court Rejects Heightened Standard in Whistleblower Protection Claims

Back on March 21, 2013, this blog critically discussed a Michigan Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) claim, Furhr v Trinity Health Corp., (2013), where the Court of Appeals reversed a jury verdict in favor of a former employee who had filed a lawsuit against her employer. Procedurally, reversing a jury verdict is not normally expected. But what … Continue Reading

Are Inconsistent Performance Reviews and Inefficient Termination Process Putting Your Company at Risk?

In a rare decision favorable to Michigan whistlblower plaintiffs, the Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s decision to dismiss a whistleblower case against an employer. But the real lesson that employers and their HR professionals should take from the decision is that timely decision making in the termination process is critical, as well as … Continue Reading

Playing with the Cards Your Dealt Is Critical to Resolving Employment Discrimination Claims

One of the most frustrating aspects for any employer defending a claim of employment discrimination is that you’re stuck with the cards dealt to you. That is to say, you employers and their lawyers can’t pick the facts. And sometimes no matter what legal defenses you think your company has when it comes to defending … Continue Reading

Social Media Rant by Employer Results in Retaliation Claim Added to Pending Litigation

The recent termination of an employee (Adria Richards) after she tweeted her displeasure at off-color jokes told by certain fellow attendees at an industry conference she attended on behalf of her employer has resulted in a lot of good discussion (see here and here for examples) about the increasing intertwining of social media and employment legal … Continue Reading

Not a Good Mix – Fishing Expeditions, Social Media, and Employment Discrimination

For many, sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and other social media-related websites is a daily routine. But what happens to that routine when a person becomes involved in litigation? This is a question that almost always has to be answered in the context of employment discrimination lawsuits.   The answer to this question, however, … Continue Reading

Customers May be able to Discriminate, But that Doesn’t Mean Your Business Can and Other Misconceptions

Last week this blog reported about a recent lawsuit filed by an African-American nurse against her employer, Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan. The lawsuit claimed the defendant hospital agreed to a man’s request that no African-Americans care for his newborn baby and went so fare as to even post a sign to this effect. … Continue Reading

Beginning a Racist Request with “please” does not make it any less Racist or Discriminatory Even if Asked for the Benefit of an Employer’s Customer

Is An Employer Liable for Harassment by non-employees? This question was inspired by a recent discrimination lawsuit (PDF) filed by a Michigan nurse against her employer, Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan. The lawsuit claims the employer agreed to a man’s request that no African-Americans care for his newborn baby. While most parents of newborns would be more … Continue Reading
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