Tag Archives: employment discrimination

Corporate Funeral Home Argues Religious Belief Exempts Title VII Anti-Discrimination Law

On May 17, 2017, attorneys for a corporation operating a Detroit funeral home that fired a transgender employee filed its appeal brief. The brief argues that the corporation could fire a transgender employee who refused to follow its sex-specific dress code because allowing her to wear women’s clothes at work would violate the religious beliefs of … Continue Reading

Religion and LGBT Discrimination – Who is Protected Under Title VII

Last year we reported on an important LGBT case involving a Michigan corporation that fired a transgender female employee (EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc.). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) argued Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination prohibits bias based on gender identity. The funeral home’s majority shareholder claimed the termination was … Continue Reading

An Employer’s First and Best Line of Defense to Discrimination Claims

A recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision highlights the important role employment agreements can play in defending against employment discrimination lawsuits. Specifically, in Sams v Common Ground, when William Sams was hired by Common Ground he signed an employment contract. In that contract, Sams agreed that he would not sue the company one year after … Continue Reading

What President Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Means for Employment Law Cases

On January 31, President Trump announced that his U.S. Supreme Court nominee is Neil Gorsuch. Judge Gorsuch sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. If confirmed, he would fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat. Judge Gorsuch authored a dissenting opinion that exemplifies how he will likely affect employment law decisions if he … Continue Reading

Honesty is an Employer’s Best Policy – Honest Defense Rule in Employment Discrimination

A recent court decision shows that the “honest belief” rule continues to be a potent defense for employers responding to employment discrimination claims. And conversely, it continues to be a frustrating hurdle for employees to overcome in proving unlawful discrimination in the workplace. Specifically, the honest belief of a Wal-Mart manager was found to protect … Continue Reading

Employers Have New Guidance for Avoiding Retaliation Claims

On August 25, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued its Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation. As such, the newly published guidance should be a “must read” for HR professionals and companies (right, just want you needed going into the Labor Day Weekend). Next, HR should be prepared to follow up with a meaningful assessment … Continue Reading

Corporate Religious Beliefs – A New Defense in Employment Discrimination Claims?

The tension between employment discrimination and religious freedom recently played out in a Michigan federal district court case. In that case, EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, the employer’s religious freedom won out over the rights of a transgender employee. Specifically, the judge ruled that a metro Detroit funeral home did not discriminate … Continue Reading

Michigan Employees Find Themselves on the Chopping Block after Dow Corning Layoff Notices

M-Live, by Heather Jordan, reported that Dow Corning Corp. has formally notified the state of its plans to lay off 348 Michigan employees. This layoff follows the June 1, 2016, announcement of the successful completion of restructuring the ownership of Dow Corning joint venture with Midland-based Dow Chemical. Under that restructuring, Dow Chemical Company assumed full … Continue Reading

Emails Become an Expensive Sideshow in Employment Discrimination Lawsuits

A recent employment discrimination lawsuit underscores the importance employers must place on preserving and producing electronic evidence. As explained below, the employer lost an opportunity to avoid significant costs associated with searching and recovering emails. Specifically, in Wagoner v. Lewis Gale Med. (7/13/16), the plaintiff sued his former employer Lewis Gale Medical Center LLC for … Continue Reading

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

Employer Violated Employee Rights Over Facebook Firing

An employer illegally fired two employees for criticizing the company on Facebook. This decision comes from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which affirmed a National Labor Relations Board decision (NLRB). Three D, LLC v NLRB (10-21-2015). This decision also highlights the need to meaningfully evaluate conduct giving rise to employee discipline, … Continue Reading

Does Your Company’s Employment Agreements Limit Employment Claims?

Employers often overlook the opportunity to limit liability against their business when it comes to employment agreements. And one of the most common ways in which a business can limit its liability is through a contractual limitations period. A recent Michigan Court of Appeals highlights this point. Specifically, a shortened limitation period in an employer’s … Continue Reading

Michigan Court of Appeals Rejects “Cat’s Paw” Theory in Employment Discrimination

Recently an employer, Pepsico Pepsi Beverages Company, won a summary disposition in an age discrimination claim filed under Michigan law. (Damghani v Pepsico, 9/10/2015) But the real significance of this case has to do with the court rejecting the application of a common employment discrimination theory often referred to as the “cat’s paw liability.” Background of … Continue Reading

Reversal of Jury Verdict in Religious Discrimination Lawsuit – Divine Intervention or Judicial Mistake?

A nursing home activities aide who was fired for refusing to pray the Rosary with a resident failed to prove job bias because she didn’t present sufficient evidence that her employer, Woodland Village Nursing Center Inc., knew before it decided to discharge her that plaintiff’s refusal to pray the rosary was based on her religious beliefs … 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

The Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling and What it Means for Employers

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 decision that same-sex couples nationwide have a constitutional right to marry. The full case opinion (Obergefell v. Hodges) is available here, however, the majority opinion was best summed up by Justice Kennedy as follows: The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty … Continue Reading

A New Day for Pregnant Employee Workplace Accommodations – Understanding the New Framework

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court issued the much anticipated opinion in a pregnancy discrimination claim, Young v . United Parcel Service. For context, the claim in Young v UPS arose under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The PDA was added to Title VII (the gold-standard in terms of civil rights law prohibiting workplace discrimination) to … Continue Reading

Michigan Legislative Landscape for LGBT Discrimination

Last year, some Michigan politicians introduced proposed legislation to amend Michigan’s main employment civil rights statute, the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), to protect employees who are gay from discrimination. That legislation, however, didn’t go anywhere. And going into the elections this November the future of that legislation is, at best, uncertain and, more likely, not … 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
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