Category Archives: Discrimination

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Michigan Municipalities Barred from Regulating Salary History Questions in Job Interviews

Michigan municipalities won’t be able to enact local legislation championed as one way to eliminate the wage gap between men and women under a bill heading to Gov. Rick Snyder. Specifically, legislation (SB No. 353) restricts municipalities from regulating what information employers must request, require or exclude during job interviews passed the Republican-controlled House on … Continue Reading

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

How 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 The suit claims the Michigan hospital failed to reasonably accommodate Yvonne Bair’s religious practices when it rescinded its job … Continue Reading

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

Companies 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 … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading

Navigating Differences Under Federal and State Employment Anti-Discrimination Laws

In what should be in the category, “water is wet,” it is unlawful to discriminate against an individual based on disability. Such prohibition applies to both the federal and at the state level. Under federal law, employers have the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under Michigan law, there is the Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act (PWDCRA). … Continue Reading

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

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

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

Rethinking Employee Performance Reviews

Does your company rely on performance reviews for evaluating and managing employees? Probably; performance reviews are a staple for human resource professionals when it comes to evaluating employee performance. Neuroscience, however, is calling into question the value of such reviews. The Science Undermining the Value of Performance Reviews Specifically, in “Risks of Reviews,” (article by … 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

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

Making a Federal Case out of Recording Conversations Involving Employment Discrimination

Here is something you don’t see happen everyday – an instance of “butt dialing” becoming a federal case. Specifically, an inadvertently dialed cell phone call purportedly involving discussions about unlawful employment discrimination resulted in a federal lawsuit for intentionally intercepting private conversations in violation of Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Street Act … Continue Reading

When Does an Employer Have Notice of an Employee’s Need for Religious Accommodation?

As an employment law nerd, I often get giddy when there is a meaty employment law issue being addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court (hopefully Justice Ginsburg took it easy on the sauce prior to oral arguments). But today I’m especially giddy because the Supremes are hearing arguments in the case captioned EEOC v. Abercrombie & … Continue Reading

Of Ducks and Men – Duck Dynasty and the Misunderstanding of Religious Discrimination and First Amendment Rights in the Workplace

A&E recently suspended Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson “indefinitely” for comments he made in a GQ interview regarding his views on homosexuality and race relations.  This suspension and those comments have erupted into a cultural firestorm. The bulk of that discussion, however, is based on incorrect assumptions that have began to masquerade as legitimate claims about … Continue Reading

The Cost of Workplace Bullying: Legal Risks and Workplace Disruption

Workplace bullying was front and center this week as the Miami Dolphins organization scrambled to address reports that its starting offensive tackle Jonathan Martin left the team indefinitely because of bullying from teammates. ESPN reported that this bullying included Mr. Martin’s teammate, Richie Incognito, leaving Martin the following (disturbing) voicemail after Mr. Martin was drafted … 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

Sexual Orientation Discrimination and Michigan Law – Is it a Time for a Change?

Sexual orientation discrimination can be described as being treated differently or harassed because of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, which includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual orientation. Unlike federal laws that protect people from workplace discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, age, and disability, there is no federal law that … Continue Reading

Proposed Michigan Bill to Prohibit Pay Discrimination – A Problem that Continues

A proposed amendment to Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act was introduced this week. The primary sponsor for this bill is State Representative Gretchen Driskell. This amendment is part of a package of bills intended to promote pay equity in Michigan. For more information about the other bills in this package follow this link. As to the motivation … Continue Reading
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