Michigan Hospital Sued for Failing to Accommodate Religious Belief over Flu Vaccine

Sincere Religious BeliefsHow far does an employer have to go to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs? That is an issue raised in a lawsuit filed by the EEOC against Memorial Healthcare on February 13 (EEOC v Memorial Healthcare).

The suit claims the Michigan hospital failed to reasonably accommodate Yvonne Bair’s religious practices when it rescinded its job offer after Bair claimed her religious beliefs prevented her from getting a flu vaccine.

Faith versus Flu Vaccine

In the suit, the EEOC says Memorial intentionally deprived Bair of equal employment opportunities based on her religious beliefs in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Specifically, Bair applied and received a job offer to work as a medical transcriptionist for Memorial. Memorial informed Bair of its policy that all employees had to receive a flu vaccine. However, Bair claims as a “follower of Jesus Christ,” she has a sincerely held religious belief that prohibits her from ingesting or injecting foreign substances into her body (irrespective of its divine origin, maybe wine ingested at a certain party Jesus hosted is considered “natural.”).

In response, Memorial offered a vaccine via nasal spray, which Bair refused. The complaint alleges Bair also believes she must rely on only “natural methods for health.” Memorial then withdrew its job offer. The EEOC also alleges that Memorial allows persons whose medical conditions don’t permit them to receive vaccines to wear masks. And Bair offered to wear a mask during flu season.

The EEOC’s suit is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. It seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief prohibit Memorial from engaging in any employment practice that discriminates based on religion.

Workplace policies and exemptions for religious beliefs.

In representing employers, we can say this case highlights one of the challenges employers face in balancing their business objectives with employees’ religious beliefs.

Here, the hospital’s general vaccination policy is rationally related to patient health and safety, i.e., preventing the transmission of and complications from the flu. Whether an individual’s religious belief – nuanced or otherwise – is enough to receive an exemption from a workplace policy remains to be seen. But this case also underscores the importance of carefully responding to an employee’s request for a religious accommodation. We’ll continue to monitor this case.

For more information about complying with federal or Michigan employment law, contact attorney Jason Shinn. Since 2001, Mr. Shinn has focused on representing clients in employment matters in state and federal courts, and before the EEOC.

If Only Losing Pounds Were as easy as Losing a Weight Discrimination Lawsuit

Discrimination against overweight employeesCompanies employing individuals in Michigan are often surprised to learn Michigan law specifically prohibits weight discrimination.

Specifically, Michigan’s anti-discrimination statute, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), prohibits an employer from failing or refusing to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against an individual in employment because of weight. MCL 37.2202(1)(a).

But employees still must meet their evidentiary obligations to present a weight discrimination claim. If this burden is not satisfied, the suit will often be decided for the employer by way of motion rather than trial.

Plaintiff claims employer made repeated weight discrimination comments

This scenario recently played out in a suit involving a claim of weight discrimination. A dental hygienist sued (Harris v Hutcheson) claiming she was discriminated against and terminated due to her weight. To support her claim, she testified that the owner of the dental practice and co-defendant (Dr. Hutcheson) “always” commented about weight and health. She contended these comments showed his bias against overweight people:

  • Dr. Hutcheson discussed diet as a means of weight loss, including telling plaintiff she should eat only fruit before noon if she wanted to lose weight;
  • He commented that plaintiff was “waddling down the hall;
  • Dr. Hutcheson commented the weight around plaintiff’s neck caused her to have stripes around her neck when she tanned; and
  • He expressed surprise that plaintiff worked out, which plaintiff inferred was a criticism of her weight.

Employer responds with non-discriminatory reason for termination

However, the Court did not find plaintiff was discriminated against due to her weight. Instead, the Court noted that plaintiff had been employed for 22 years. And in October 2012, a female dentist (Dr. Dyras) began working with defendants. Dr. Dyras repeatedly disagreed with plaintiff over patient care. These disagreements continued into August 2013. Dr. Dyras advised Dr. Hutcheson plaintiff should be terminated for insubordination. Plaintiff was later terminated at the end of August 2013.

With this background, the Court reasoned that even if a jury believed that defendant-Hutcheson made the statements identified by plaintiff, they did “not require the conclusion that unlawful discrimination based on plaintiff’s weight was at least a motivating factor in Hutcheson’s decision” to terminate her. Absent direct evidence of discrimination, plaintiff had to rely on what is referred to as the McDonnell Douglas framework.

McDonnell Douglas is – to simplify – like an evidentiary tennis match; a plaintiff must “serve up” evidence to establish a prima facie case of unlawful discrimination. The defendant then must respond to the evidence by returning a “legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for their employment decision.” At that point in the volley, a plaintiff must respond to defendant’s evidence and show the reasons are not valid, but merely pretext for discrimination. Here, the plaintiff failed to win the point:

… there is no reasonable basis to infer that, after 22 years, Hutcheson suddenly decided to terminate plaintiff because of her weight or even in part because of her weight. Rather, it is plain that what had changed, and what motivated plaintiff’s termination, was Dyras’s arrival at the practice and her disagreements with plaintiff regarding patient care. While plaintiff maintains that insubordination was a mere pretext, there is nothing but her subjective claim of discrimination to establish that weight-related animus motivated Hutcheson’s termination decision.

Closing Thoughts

This case, like a sex discrimination claim suit we recently covered, illustrates the difficulty plaintiffs have in bringing a successful weight discrimination claim.

It also highlights the role a judge’s common-sense plays in resolving discrimination lawsuits. It was evident from the Court’s opinion that the weight discrimination claim simply did not make sense; Plaintiff presented no evidence her weight changed or fluctuated upwards toward the end of her employment. So the court was left asking why after 22 years of employment would defendant now decide to unlawfully discriminate against plaintiff.

Further, understanding what is prohibited under state and federal anti-discrimination workplace laws is critical to both employment law compliance and a successful defense. Simply put, the closer you get to the fault-line, the more likely it becomes an adverse employment decision or statement will cross the line and become evidence to show bias against an overweight employee.

For more information about complying with federal or Michigan employment discrimination laws, contact employment attorney Jason Shinn. Since 2001 Mr. Shinn has addressed state and federal employment law issues on behalf of clients, responded to discrimination complaints filed with the EEOC and state agencies, and litigated these disputes and federal and Michigan courts.

Plaintiffs Face Many Pitfalls in Employment Discrimination Suits

To be blunt, employment discrimination claims are challenging lawsuits for plaintiffs to win. A recent employment discrimination lawsuit explains this point.

Trial Court and the Appeal – A tale of two discrimination findings

In the case, Patten v City of Ann Arbor, the plaintiff sued her former employer and supervisors for discrimination under Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) & Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (CRA). She made two claims:

  • Discrimination against her on the basis of her sex in making several decisions about her employment status; and
  • They retaliated against her for complaining that their “promotion process inherently favored males and discriminated against females.”

The trial court denied the defendants’ motion for summary disposition and they appealed. On appeal, the Court reversed in favor of the defendants.

No discrimination or retaliation on Appeal

In reaching this decision, the Court went through all the reasons why the trial court erred and defendants were entitled to summary disposition on the sex discrimination claim. These reasons included:

  • Assuming plaintiff established a prima facie “case of discrimination, [she] failed to rebut defendants’ evidence of legitimate non-discriminatory” reasons.
  • “The trial court erred by not shifting the burden back to plaintiff to prove that defendants’ legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons were a mere pretext for sex discrimination.” Further on this point, the Court noted, the plaintiff failed to show that defendants’ “reasons had no basis in fact.”
  • Plaintiff failed to rebut defendants’ legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for their adverse employment decisions, and the trial court simply substituted its speculation regarding defendants’ motives to infer that sex discrimination motivated defendants’ decisions.”

The court also found that defendants were entitled to summary disposition on the retaliation claim. The Court concluded there was no evidence linking her protected activity to defendants’ adverse employment actions.

Also, the Court noted that even if she had made out her prima facie “case of retaliation, [her] performance record, which included multiple concerns by several officers regarding plaintiff’s ability to fulfill the duties assigned her in various positions, provides a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for defendants’ employment decisions, which plaintiff has offered no evidence to rebut.”

Closing thoughts on employment discrimination claims.

As this case illustrates, there are numerous ways in which an employer can successfully defeat an employment discrimination claim. It also illustrates the significant hurdle a plaintiff must overcome. Specifically, the employer’s reasons for the adverse employment decision were not the actual factors motivating the employer’s decisions or that the reasons lacked sufficiency to justify their decisions.

For more information about federal or Michigan employment law, contact attorney Jason Shinn. Since 2001, he has represented businesses and individuals in employment discrimination lawsuits.

Learning from this Company’s Mistake: Don’t Mishandle Employment Agreements

Noncompete mistakeAn interview with a successful CEO offers business owners a chance to learn from a costly mistake involving employment agreements. This mistake could have doomed her company before it became a billion-dollar business.

Specifically, Therese Tucker is the CEO of BlackLine, which provides automated finance and accounting software. She also founded BlackLine and brought it public. It was recently valued in excess of $1.5 billion. So Ms. Tucker knows a thing or two (times multiples of 10) for what it takes to run a successful company. But equally important is what can be learned from the mistakes Ms. Tucker’s business made in its early start-up days.

In this regard, Ms. Tucker recently gave an interview to Russ Banham, a contributing writer to Chief Executive. Excerpts of the interview appear in Mr. Banam’s article, Biggest Mistake: No Employee Non-Compete Clause, Says BlackLine CEO Therese Tucker. Ms. Tucker explained how a mistake gave rise to a competitor:

I learned a really valuable lesson about the critical importance of legally sound contracts with employees, one that I will never forget … In California, you’re not allowed to ask an employee to sign a non-compete contract, which are banned. The mistake we made was not having specific clauses in our employment contracts regarding confidentiality and reusability. Regrettably, an employee in our sales group had access to our source code in her laptop. She outsourced the code to India, created a competing product, and sold it.

Fortunately for Ms. Tucker and her business, the mistake was not fatal to BlackLine. But luckily for BlackLine, Ms. Tucker learned from this issue and re-focused on having employment contracts suitable for a national company. More specifically, BlackLine implemented agreements tailored to be enforceable with employees living in multiple locations across the U.S.

The Take-Away – Enforcing Employment Agreements Depend upon State Law.

For companies with national or international operations, having a “one-size-fits-all” employment or non-compete agreement runs the same risks BlackLine faced; it may not be enforceable where and when your company needs it most. For these reasons, in running a business it is essential to evaluate where your employees live and your business needs in relation to non-compete and similar post-employment provisions.

If you are responsible for your company, here are some questions to consider:

  1. Should your company use non-compete or non-solicitation provisions to protect its business?
  2. If so, what employees should be subject to post-employment restrictions?
  3. Can these restrictions comply with the law of one state or are individuals employed as residents of other states? If so, what does the law say about enforcing employment agreements in the employee’s home-state?

If you are an individual, similar attention must be given to what the employment agreements you are asked to sign:

  1. Specifically, what law applies to your employment agreement?
  2. If that law differs from where you live, is it more or less favorable to you?
  3. If it is less favorable, are you sufficiently compensated for giving up potential legal remedies or protections you would otherwise be entitled to?

For more information about this article or employment or non-compete agreements, contact employment attorney Jason Shinn. Since 2001, Mr. Shinn has focused on Michigan non-compete law, as well as non-compete disputes involving other state’s non-compete laws,  including California, North Carolina, Florida, Washington, Ohio, Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Untangling Confusion about FLSA Exemptions for Highly Compensated Employees

Confusion under FLSA and overtime payThe Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an interesting Fair Labor Standards Act decision. The case focused on who is and is not exempt from overtime requirements. And the result – as the court noted – is likely to be counter-intuitive to many employers.

Case Background – FLSA and Highly Compensated Employees

The case, Hughes v Gulf  Interstate Field Services, involved welding inspectors for Gulf Interstate Field Services. In 2014, they and others similarly situated plaintiffs sued under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the comparable Ohio wage statute. The claim asserted the plaintiffs were entitled to overtime pay for weeks in which they worked more than forty hours.

Gulf Interstate argued that the plaintiffs were exempt from the overtime requirements because they qualified as “highly compensated employees” under the FLSA regulations. The lead plaintiffs made approximately $83,000 and $109,000.00. The district court agreed with Gulf Interstate and granted summary judgment in favor of the employer.

On appeal, however, the Court reversed the federal district court but noted the unusual result:

It may seem strange, on its face, that employees who earned an annualized rate of more than $100,000 did not necessarily qualify as “highly compensated employees.” But regardless of whether good reasons exist, we must follow the legal meaning of the terms rather than our intuitive sense of the meaning of the words. Because [the regulations] make clear that it matters whether Hughes and McDonald were guaranteed a qualifying weekly salary and because a reasonable trier of fact could find that there was no guarantee we REVERSE the district court’s grant of summary judgment and REMAND for further proceedings.

Making Sense of the Result – Highly Compensated & Overtime Pay

For qualifying employees, the FLSA prohibits employment “for a workweek longer than forty hours unless such employee receives compensation for his employment in excess of the hours above specified at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed.” 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1).

But not all employees are covered. For example, under 29 C.F.R. § 541.601, an employee qualifies as an exempt “[h]ighly compensated employee[]” if three tests are met: “(1) a duties test; (2) a salary-level test; and (3) a salary-basis test.”

In the Gulf Interstate case, only the ‘salary basis’ test” was in dispute. And in resolving that dispute, the Court determined that questions remained whether “their pay was calculated more frequently than weekly[,]” and “whether what they received weekly was in fact guaranteed.”

Closing Thoughts

The FLSA and overtime is an area of employment law that frequently confuses employers. And as this case illustrates, determining FLSA overtime requirements is not straightforward or immediately apparent.

For more information about complying with federal or Michigan employment law, or to understand your rights under both, contact employment attorney Jason Shinn. He has represented employers and employees since 2001 in employment disputes, workplace investigations, and negotiating severance packages.

Geography Increasingly Complicates Resolution of Non-compete Disputes

On January 8, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider an appeal from a former Stryker Corp. sales representative. The appeal arose from a case involving a non-compete agreement between a Louisiana employee and a Michigan employer.

The non-compete agreement contained a forum-selection clause stating that any dispute arising out of the agreement must be brought in a Michigan court—state or federal. The former Stryker employee, Christopher Ridgeway, argued the Sixth Circuit was wrong to find Michigan law — and not Louisiana law — applied. Michigan law favors non-compete agreements; Louisiana, where the sales representative lived and worked, severely restricts them.

After applying Michigan law over Louisiana law, a jury found Ridgeway had violated the non-compete agreement and awarded Stryker approximately $745,000 in damages. Ridgeway appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which agreed with the trial court (Ridgeway v. Stryker Corporation).

Whose State has a materially greater interest in enforcing the Noncompete Agreement

In affirming this decision, the Court reasoned the sales representative had consented to jurisdiction in Michigan through the agreement’s forum-selection clause. The Court also concluded the Federal District Court properly enforced the agreement’s Michigan choice-of-law provision.

The Court rejected Ridgeway’s argument that Louisiana’s interest in protecting its employees from unfair non-compete clauses was materially greater than Michigan’s interest in protecting its businesses from unfair competition:

On balance, Louisiana’s interest in protecting its employee from unfair non-compete clauses is not materially greater than Michigan’s interest in protecting its businesses from unfair competition.

* * *

Absent such evidence that Louisiana’s interest was not just greater but materially greater, there is no reason to disturb the parties’ choice of Michigan law.

As the above case illustrates, non-compete disputes are complicated by geography. This is because non-compete law is state dependent. And some states favor non-compete restrictions, while others do not, with significant variations between these two extremes.

To eliminate – or at least reduce – the uncertainty about what law will control, a best practice is to specifically identify it. Also, for employers operating in multiple states, know what is the most favorable law for enforcing non-compete restrictions.

For employees, it is important to understand whether your employment agreement has a forum selection clause (it probably does). This sort of provision will identify what law and where a dispute must be resolved. As the above case illustrates, even if you work exclusively in your home state and have no real connection with an outside state, you still may be required to litigate a dispute across the country.

For more information about non-compete law, and defending or pursuing non-compete litigation, contact attorney Jason Shinn. He routinely works with individuals and companies in non-compete disputes.

Before Accepting a new Position, are you Required to Sign a Non-compete Agreement?

Closely examine noncompete restrictionsA former employee recently sued MedMar Inc. and its related companies. The suit, Greenswag v MedMar Inc., pending in the Cook County Circuit Court, alleges the defendants made misrepresentations about the employment opportunity to induce him to sign a non-compete restriction.

I haven’t reviewed the complaint, but these sorts of claims are often unsuccessful. This is because employment agreements will contain (and if yours does not, you need to update it) an “integration” or “merger” clause. These clauses are intended to nullify all prior agreements and representations not included in the final agreement. There may be exceptions or arguments to avoid an integration/merger clause, but they are just that – exceptions to the general rule.

Consider Non-compete Issues Before Joining a New Employer 

However, this suit is more important as a reminder for individuals who may be considering a change in employment. In this regard, consider these points:

  1. It is not uncommon for a new position to be oversold – especially by recruiters financially motivated to fill positions. But when this sales pitch is made, remember none of the promises, representations, etc. will likely mean anything if they are not included in the final employment agreement.
  2. Ask early in the recruiting process if a non-compete or other post-employment restriction is required. If so, get a copy as soon as possible. You will want to scrutinize the non-compete restrictions to fully understand your obligations. Often, we review post-employment restrictions that are too overly broad to the point it is a “deal-breaker” for our clients. Sometimes these issues can be negotiated. Other times, it comes down to deciding if the risks of being sidelined by a non-compete restriction are outweighed by the benefits of the job.
  3. Evaluate the new employer’s litigation history when it comes to non-compete enforcement. For our non-compete clients, we conduct a comprehensive litigation review of the prospective employer. This often provides insight into a company’s non-compete enforcment history and litigation tactics. There are some companies that will aggressively enforce a non-compete restrictions across the board. Other companies will look for compromises. Either way, it is just good to know what to expect.

For more information about non-compete restrictions or to have your non-compete agreement reviewed, contact attorney Jason Shinn. Since 2001, Jason has represented companies and individuals in all aspects of non-compete law, e.g., drafting, negotiating and litigating non-compete disputes, and drafting or responding to cease and desist demands.

Michigan’s Minimum Wage Increases January 1, 2018

Michigan is one of 18 states where employees will receive an increase in paychecks beginning January 1. Specifically, Michigan’s minimum wage will increase $0.35, raising the minimum wage to $9.25. This is the last increase under the Workforce Opportunity Wage Act, which passed back in May 2014.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the wage increase will directly benefit 257,000 employees. It will also result in a total increase in annual wages of $219,846,000 for Michigan employees. 

In contrast, the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25, has not increased since 2009. In inflation-adjusted terms, the federal minimum wage was highest in 1968, when it was equal to $11.18 in today’s dollars. Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post reports puts the federal minimum wage in perspective.

Among the world’s wealthy nations, the United States is an outlier on this issue: Americans have the lowest national minimum wage, relative to the median wage, of any of the wealthy nations represented in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

It is also worth noting that America’s low minimum wage relative to other nations is further exacerbated when you consider workers in other countries often receive many benefits their US counterparts do not. Such benefits include universal health care, paid maternity leave, retirement pensions, and generous vacation leave.

For more information about Michigan employment and wage law, contact attorney Jason Shinn. Also, here is the link to Michigan’s Wage and Hour Division.

Weak Links in Trade Secret and Computer Fraud Litigation

Strengtening trade secret protectionsA company’s Federal Trade Secret Claim and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act claim were recently dismissed by a Michigan federal district judge. The dismissal was avoidable. But it also offers several key lessons for employers and employees when it comes to protecting and using confidential information.

The Trade Secret and Computer Fraud Litigation

The case, Ukranian Future Credit Union v Seikaly,  is somewhat convoluted. But the Cliff-note version is that the Ukrainian Future Credit Union sued its former employee, Lidia Shibanov, in Michigan State court. That suit alleged Shibanov improperly approved loan transactions.

While Shibanov was employed by the Credit Union, she emailed to her personal email address confidential Credit Union documents. In the state court litigation, the Credit Union argued Shibanov and her lawyers improperly obtained and used the confidential information. But the Michigan state court declined to protect that information as requested by the Credit Union.

The Credit Union then sued Shibanov and her attorneys in federal court. The federal suit asserted violations of the Computer Fraud Abuse Act (CFAA) and later tried to amend to add a claim under the federal Defend Trade Secret Act (DTSA).

Against this backdrop, the Michigan Federal Court dismissed the Credit Union’s suit and denied its request to amend to add a DTSA claim. The Court reasoned:

  • The Credit Union did not allege its former employee emailed confidential information to herself intending to defraud the Credit Union. This intent was required to state Computer Fraud and Abuse Act claim.
  • The Credit Union failed to assert the information emailed by the employee to herself qualified as “trade secret” as required under the Defend Trade Secrets Act.

On this last point, the Court rejected the Credit Union’s claim that two policies (Employee Fraud Policy and “ECommerce Policies and Procedures) showed it took reasonable steps to protect the secrecy of the alleged trade secret. These policies, as the Court noted, were not directed toward protecting confidentiality, but merely set forth general parameters for the operation of the Credit Union’s e-commerce and computer systems and general prohibitions against engaging in fraudulent acts.

Why this Matters to Employees and Employers

Again, this was a procedurally complicated case. But a few points are worth emphasizing for employers and employees:

  • First, no matter the reason, employees face litigation risks if they email or download information from an employer. We frequently encounter this issue in litigation between companies and their former employers. Just because there is a “smoking gun” email or document that favors your claims or defenses does not mean you have a right to take it.
  • Second, employers must make sure business reality matches up with litigation reality. In other words, if your company has not taken steps to meet the threshold requirements for a “trade secret,” i.e., maintaining the secrecy of information that is economically valuable, then a claim for trade secret misappropriation will not be successful.
  • Third, employers must evaluate how confidential information is protected. And careful scrutiny must be applied where such information consists of “trade secrets;” Simply having general policies about the use of technology or prohibited conduct means your company may forfeit down the road a trade secret claim.

For more information about federal or Michigan trade secret misappropriation and claims relating to these issues, contact attorney Jason Shinn. On behalf of his clients, Mr. Shinn has pursued and defended against these claims in Michigan and federal courts since 2001.

When it Comes to Enforcing a Noncompete Agreement is Timing Everything?

Enforcing noncompete agreement A recent noncompete case from Minnesota offers a cautionary tale for employers and cause for celebration for employees.

The case, Safety Center, Inc. v. Stier, (11/6/17), involved an employer that ran a treatment center for special-needs sex offenders. The employer sought to enforce its noncompete agreement against a former program director (Stier).

The noncompete agreement would have limited Stier’s ability to “provide services to [Safety Center’s] clients in any competitive capacity for … one year commencing from the termination of employment,” along with other post-employment restrictions.

Stier applied to the Safety Center on May 19, 2003. She also interviewed that day for a position. The next day, Stier was mailed a letter “to confirm [Stier’s] acceptance of the position [the Safety Center] offered [her].” The letter made no mention of a noncompete agreement. On Steir’s first day of employment in May 2003, she was presented for the first time a noncompete agreement, which she signed.

Fast forward to 2014 and Steir incorporated what would become a competing business. She later resigned from the Safety Center in 2015 to run her competing business.

The Noncompete Lawsuit

The Safety Center sued Steir and her business for various claims arising out of the breaching the noncompete agreement. Enforcement of the noncompete agreement, however, came down to when Stier signed it and whether continued employment provided sufficient consideration to enforce it.

The Court concluded the noncompete agreement was not enforceable. The Court reasoned that because Stier was not presented with or given notice of the noncompete agreement at the time the employment agreement was established, the noncompete agreement was not ancillary to the employment agreement. Further, the employer did not provide any independent “consideration” to support enforcement of the noncompete agreement.

Pay Attention to When Noncompetes are Signed

In our experience in representing both businesses and individuals in noncompete disputes, the circumstances presented in the above case happen all too often. For employers looking to avoid the circumstances, it is critical to closely examine your company’s process for making job offers and obtaining noncompete restrictions.

While this case addresses Minnesota law, it is also a cautionary tale for Michigan businesses as to whether additional consideration (beyond continued employment) is required to enforce a noncompete agreement. Or put another way, did the employee receive anything of value in exchange for signing the noncompete agreement? If not, then the agreement may not be enforceable. Michigan’s highest court has yet to speak on this issue, leaving the issue open for debate.

For more information about Michigan noncompete law, contact attorney Jason Shinn. Since 2001, Mr. Shinn routinely represents businesses and individuals in drafting, negotiating, and litigating noncompete disputes.