COVID-19On April 9, 2020, Michigan Governor Whitmer, extended the State’s March 23, 2020 “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. It was set to expire on April 13, 2020, but it will now extend through April 30 and goes into effect tonight at 11:59 PM.

Continued Limits on Employers and Employees

Consistent with the prior order, the extension (Executive Order 2020-42) places limits on gatherings, travel, and all workers who are not necessary to sustain or protect life to stay home, with very limited exceptions.

As to employers,  they remain prohibited from requiring workers to leave their homes, unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. Further, businesses and operations are to designate the workers who meet those criteria and must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures to protect workers and patrons in the performance of that in-person work.

Workers who are necessary to sustain or protect life include those in health care and public health, law enforcement and public safety, grocery store workers, and more. For a full list of these critical infrastructure workers, click the link to Executive Order 2020-42 at the bottom of this page. To enable these critical workers to get to their workplaces, automobile dealerships will now be allowed to open for remote sales, though showrooms must remain closed.

Extension Needed as Michigan Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Climb

The extension of Governor Whitmer’s initial stay at home order was not unexpected because of the significant increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Here is what she had to say:

Michigan has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, and we’re still on the upswing. We must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread and protect our families. Data shows that most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe. That’s good, but we must keep it up. When we do, we can save lives and shorten the amount of time we’re working through this crisis, which will be good for our families and good for our economy in the long-run. We can also protect critical infrastructure workers like doctors, nurses, grocery store employees, and child care workers. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that people stay home and stay safe.

New Restrictions under the Order

The new order, however, also imposes more stringent limitations on stores to reduce foot traffic, slow the spread of the coronavirus, and save lives. It also places restrictions on what large stores may continue to sell. For example, large stores must also close areas of the store that are dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries, or paint.

Use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn if you have questions about this article or for complying with coronavirus related governmental orders.

Coronavirus closuresToday (3/23/2020), Michigan’s Governor issued an executive order (No. 2020-21) for the temporary suspension of activities in Michigan not deemed “necessary to sustain or protect life.” This order goes into effect on March 24, 2020, at 12:00 AM and continues until April 13, 2020, at 11:59 PM. A full copy is available here.

The Order imposes numerous restrictions on both personal and commercial activities.

As to commercial activities, all work that is not “necessary to sustain or protect life” is prohibited, except for businesses that employ workers (1) necessary to sustain or protect life, which is defined as “critical infrastructure workers (CIW);” or (2) individuals who must work to conduct minimum basic operations of the business (“MBO Worker”).

The Order adopts the definition of CIW used in the Director of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) March 19, 2020 guidance on responding to Covid 19 (the “CISA Guidance”). The Order also specifies other workers not described in the CISA Guidance who will be considered CIW. These jobs include childcare workers, workers and volunteers for businesses providing food, shelter, and other services for economically disadvantaged individuals, workers in the insurance industry that cannot perform their work remotely, workers performing “critical labor union functions” that also cannot be done remotely.

To qualify as an MBO Worker, businesses must make that determination and follow proscribed notice requirements, and following other practices intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

What Should Your Business Do in Response to the Michigan Suspension Order?

First, business owners should determine whether they may continue to operate under the exceptions provided for in the Order. Importantly, even if your business does not fall into a category exempted by Governor Whitmer’s Order, it may still continue to operate if it employs workers in relation to providing services as a “designated supplier or distribution center” for businesses or operations that do employ individuals considered CIW’s.

Second, you should focus on which individuals may continue to work under the Order and comply with the notice requirements for that determination.

Third, businesses who may continue operations and employ individuals working under either the designation of a CIW or MBO Worker must follow certain measures described in the Order to protect the health and safety of their workers and the public. Among these measures are following the CDC recommendations or social distancing of at least 6 feet, increased standards of facility cleaning and disinfection, adopting policies to prevent workers from entering the premises if they display respiratory symptoms or have had contact with a person known or suspected to have been diagnosed with having the coronavirus.

In addition to complying with this Suspension Order, business owners should also be looking at recovering financial losses related to the coronavirus shut-down, which may be covered under business insurance interruption policies. For more information on this topic, see our firm’s publication, Coronavirus Closed Your Businesses; Can You Recover Your Losses?

Use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn if you have questions about this article or for complying with coronavirus related governmental orders.

Michigan first reported two confirmed cases of coronavirus on March 10, 2020. One week later, that number has jumped to 54. The State plans to update its confirmed cases daily at 2 PM at its coronavirus website. This website is a great resource.

On March 16, 2020, Gov. Whitmore signed an executive order temporarily closing bars, theaters, casinos and other public spaces. The order limits restaurants to delivery and carry out orders only. These restrictions will remain in place until March 30, 11:59 PM.

Notably, Michigan’s restrictions follow the drastically revised federal recommendations for limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people. The prior recommendation was 50. The New York Times reported that the revised recommendations stem from fatality estimates from a report from researchers at the Imperial College London. They found without changes to the coronavirus response, the death toll in the United States could rise to 2.2 million.

The potential death toll from the coronavirus is alarming. But equally unsettling is the extended scope likely needed for a successful virus intervention; According to the researcher’s report (Impact of Social Interventions to Reduce COVID-19 Mortality):

The major challenge of suppression is that this type of intensive intervention package – or something equivalently effective at reducing transmission – will need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more) – given that we predict that transmission will quickly rebound if interventions are relaxed. We show that intermittent social distancing – triggered by trends in disease surveillance – may allow interventions to be relaxed temporarily in relative short time windows, but measures will need to be reintroduced if or when case numbers rebound.

(emphasis added). This report was shared with the Trump administration around March 9, 2020. Days later Trump tried to give a national address to give confidence about his handling of the pandemic. He made no reference to these dire predictions or recommendations.

Unfortunately, the discrepancy between these and other findings and the once rosy predictions from the Trump Administration about the coronavirus cannot be reconciled. Instead, it is becoming increasingly apparent that businesses and governments must prepare for the likely reality that this latest pandemic is not going away any time soon. And therein is the true frustration.

Specifically, businesses, their employees, and citizens are resourceful and resilient. At our law firm, we live and breathe the “best-and-worst-case scenarios” that our Business clients and entrepreneurs routinely use for planning. But that sort of preparation only works if we are making informed decisions; not hoped-for outcomes that have little to no factual basis. So for any politician reading this, just be honest.

On this point, a good quote to live by, especially in times like now is from Marcus Aurelius:

Objective judgment, now, at this very moment. Unselfish action, now, at this very moment. Willing acceptance—now, at this very moment—of all external events. That’s all you need.

(Aurelius, Marcus. Meditations (Modern Library) (p. 119). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition).

Among the areas where employers should now exercise objective judgment is its readiness to conduct operations under extended pandemic conditions. For starters, look at implementing or updating your work from home policies, revisit your sick-leave procedures, make sure worker’s compensation and other business insurance policies cover remote work-cites, and understand how federal and Michigan employment laws may affect sick or quarantined employees.

For continued updates about the COVID-19 coronavirus and responding to it, please subscribe to this publication. For specific questions, use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn.

COVID-19

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced guidance on March 12, 2020, for how States can pay unemployment insurance benefits to employees who miss work because of the coronavirus. Here is the DOL’s COVID-19 Bulletin.

The Federal DOL generally oversees unemployment insurance benefits systems. But States actually handle applications and payments. In so doing, States also generally determine eligibility requirements for such benefits.

Because of this overlap between Federal and State agencies, the DOL’s guidance provides an important roadmap for States to extend unemployment benefits eligibility to employees affected by the coronavirus, including in these three scenarios:

  • employees who miss work because of a medical quarantine;
  • employees who choose not to work to avoid exposure (self-quarantine) or to care for a family member with the virus;
  • employees laid off because their employers cease or limit operations in response to the pandemic.

The value of the DOL’s guidance will be magnified if the House Democrats get enacted their “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.” This Act (H.R. 6201), is a package of measures that would:

  • Provide as much as $1 billion for emergency transfers to States to process unemployment insurance claims and pay benefits;
  • It would allow for an additional 13 weeks of benefits, beyond the standard 26-week period;
  • Establish free coronavirus testing; and
  • Provides paid leave.

On this last point, providing paid leave is especially important because most states do not require this and the DOL expressly states unemployment benefits are “not intended to be used as paid sick leave.” See Section 3(b) of the DOL COVID-19 Bulletin. Thus, the paid leave would be important to minimize the spread of the virus by giving employees a real choice between taking time off if they may have been exposed to the virus or missing a desperately needed paycheck.

For continued updates about the COVID-19 coronavirus and responding to it, please subscribe to this publication. For specific questions, use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn.

Bio-hazard

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan announced on March 11, 2020, visitor restrictions for entering its five courthouses to prevent the spread of the virus.

The full restrictions are available here. These restrictions were issued in response to Governor Whitmer’s State of Emergency, which we discussed here.

In sum, the current restrictions require visitors to tell Security Officers if they meet certain criteria, including whether they:

  • Have traveled to China, South Korea, Italy, or Iran within the last 14 days;
  • Come into contact with someone who has been to these countries;
  • Traveled domestically within the U.S. where COVID-19 has sustained widespread community transmission;
  • Come into contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Have been asked to self-quarantine by any medical professionals; and
  • Have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

There are various numbers in the bulletin to call if you were supposed to appear for jury duty or otherwise required to appear at one of the courthouses in the Eastern District but cannot because of the restrictions.

Also, it will be important to review this notice as domestic community transmission continues to increase or countries are added to the list.

Thoughts on the Restrictions

These restrictions make sense but are undermined by the lack of testing available for the virus.  Specifically, three of the six criteria depend upon or relate to having the virus, having symptoms of the virus, or being exposed to someone with the virus. Medical tests would provide much-needed fact-based assessment rather than the guess-work or assumptions visitors and court staff must use to assess entry into the courthouse.

Our goal in the coming days and weeks is to provide continued updates and recommendations for maintaining a safe workplace and meeting employment law obligations in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus. For continued updates on this and other employment law matters, please subscribe to this publication. For specific questions, use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn.

Coronavirus On March 10, 2020, two Michigan residents tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). One case as an adult female from Oakland County who had recently traveled internationally. The other is an adult male from Wayne County who recently traveled within the United States.

In response, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency. Gov. Witmer and her coronavirus task force will be meeting today to finalize the State’s response to the virus. Before these confirmed cases, Governor Whitmer had created for taskforces focused on education, Health and Human Services, the economy and workforce, and state government in preparation for a potential COVID-19 outbreak.

Jay Greene of Crain’s Detroit reported that Michigan officials have advised businesses, schools, and universities that they should be making plans for mitigating the spread of the virus, which will likely continue in Michigan. As a reminder, COVID-19 symptoms may appear between two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus. The symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Government Coronavirus Information and Resources

In addition to Michigan Government’s response to COVID-19, various federal government agencies have provided guidance specific to employers and workers for responding and dealing with the coronavirus:

  • The United States Department of Labor provided this statement and resource page for employers and workers about the coronavirus.
  • The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided this coronavirus resource page for healthcare professionals.
  • The CDC also provided this resource page providing guidance for businesses and
    Employers about responding to the coronavirus outbreak. Importantly, the CDC has told employers they should encourage sick employers to stay home.

What Should Your Business Do Right Now

As someone who has been following the coronavirus outbreak, one frustration has been the conflicting and, sometimes, dishonest representation of the viral outbreak.

To minimize such confusion, we are advising our business clients to designate a point person who will keep abreast of coronavirus developments. This person should follow reputable and vetted sources, in addition to monitoring official state and federal governmental resources. The focus should be staying on top of updates and best practices for mitigating the spread of the coronavirus, as well as minimizing the risk to your company. With the right understanding, you will then be able to orientate your company down a path for successfully responding to this epidemic.

Building on this last point, your company’s point person should regularly communicate with management and employees regarding these issues, and follow up with outside legal counsel as may be needed to address specific compliance or legal issues relating to the virus.

As it increasingly becomes apparent that the coronavirus will continue to adversely affect workers and businesses with no near-term solutions, you should be prepared to confront a range of legal and business operations challenges. Our goal in the coming days and weeks is to provide continued updates and recommendations for maintaining a safe workplace and meeting employment law obligations. For continued updates on this and other employment law matters, please subscribe to this publication. For specific questions, use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn.

Partial Response to Sexual Harassment is no solutionThe results of a sexual harassment internal investigation by the Michigan Senate’s human resource office concluded that Michigan State Senator Pete Lucido likely engaged in “inappropriate workplace behavior.” That is troubling. But, equally troubling is the response from the top Senate Leader.

The sexual harassment investigation and report.

The sexual harassment investigation was launched after a reporter complained about Senator Lucido making inappropriate comments about her. Specifically, reporter Allison Donahue explained while interviewing Lucido in front of about 30 teenage boys from an all-boys Catholic high school the Senator made inappropriate comments about her:

You should hang around! You could have a lot of fun with these boys, or they could have a lot of fun with you.

The teenagers then burst into laughter with the Senator.

This was not a locker room exchange; it happened outside the Michigan Senate chamber. And even if you are willing to accept a locker-room style excuse from your elected officials, this was an elected politician making what can be considered a gang-rape joke for an audience of teenage boys about a female reporter asking him questions about his involvement with a violent, anti-Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Facebook group.

Peter Lucido sexual harasser
Pete Lucido (center, screaming) at a Donald Trump campaign rally on November 6, 2016.  One hopes Mr. Lucido was not this enthusiastic in response to Mr. Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood video. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

After Ms. Donahue came forward, two other women also came forward with sexual harassment complaints against the Senator. After investigating these complaints, the Senate Business Office concluded there was a “likelihood that Senator Lucido acted in the manner described by his accusers.”

Don’t Say Your Company Takes Sexual Harassment Seriously; Show it.

In response, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey stripped Senator Lucido of only one of his three chairmanships; He lost his chairmanship from the Advice and Consent Committee, but Crain’s Detroit (by Chad Livengood) reported that Lucido could keep his “chairmanship of the powerful Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.”

In a statement, Mr. Shirkey said: “We take accusations of inappropriate behavior in the workplace very seriously …” Really?

If Mr. Shirkey’s believed the report’s conclusions, if he believed Mr. Lucido harassed three women, believed such harassment warranted discipline, then why the partial response e.g., taking away only one of three chairmanships? Perhaps there is some political sliding-scale: three sexually harassed women equal losing one of three chairmanships?

Employees Deserve Meaningful Responses to Sexual Harassment; Juries Expect it.

Change the facts ever so slightly. Instead of an elected politician making jokes about the “fun” 30 teenage boys could have with a female reporter, imagine it was your senior manager, or your CFO, or a vice-president. And imagine that person telling a female employee her male co-workers could have a lot of fun with her in the conference room. Would you take away the offender’s job title, maybe remove some job responsibilities, call it a day, declare lesson-learned, and move on?

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The #MeToo movement and abhorrent conduct by executives and other high-profile incidents of sexual harassment have given heightened attention to such harassment. And this environment has raised the stakes for employers to get out in front of this issue and to responsibly address sexual harassment concerns.

But it is not enough for an organization – at least outside of Michigan politics – to just point to workplace anti-sexual harassment policies and give statements that violations are not acceptable and call it a day.

Your company’s response to sexual harassment should fit the circumstances. However, the response should demonstrate your company’s commitment to creating a safe, professional, harassment-free workplace. And when a complaint is investigated and substantiated, half (or with Senator Lucido losing one of three chairmanships) 1/3 efforts to discipline harassers will often fall woefully short of the meaningful response employees deserve and juries expect. This is evident from the number of high-profile verdicts and CEO terminations over the last year.

Use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn if you have questions about this article, or complying with Michigan or federal employment laws or litigating claims under both. Since 2001, Mr. Shinn has represented companies and individuals in employment discrimination claims under federal and Michigan employment laws.

McDonald's Noncompete AgreementMcDonald’s recently announced it terminated its chief executive, Steve Easterbrook, for having a consensual relationship with an employee. This termination presents a buffet of employment law and HR issues upon which one could devour. However, I want to focus on the non-compete restriction that Mr. Easterbrook ultimately agreed to upon ending his employment.

The Background for the Termination

For background purposes, Mr. Easterbrook was terminated after having a relationship with an employee. This relationship violated McDonald’s company policy, which prohibits employees with “a direct or indirect reporting relationship” from “dating or having a sexual relationship.” Such policies, sometimes called nonfraternization policies, have become standard for employers.

There are many perspectives on this firing. The New York Times, for example, reports that Mr. Easterbrook was not the first (nor will he be the last) executive to be removed for violating this sort of policy. And, Forbes provides three good reasons for why this termination made sense. See “Fair Or Foul? McDonald’s CEO Fired For Love.” And NPR analyzed the significant pay gap between compensation at the top and the bottom of the corporate ladder.

McDonald’s Non-compete Severance Agreement

But I found the non-compete restriction interesting and relevant to issues my clients regularly address. Specifically, how broadly can a non-compete restriction be drafted before it becomes unenforceable?

Here, McDonald’s post-employment restriction puts Mr. Easterbrook on the employment “side-lines” for two years. He is prohibited from working anywhere in the world for a “Competitive Company.” So what is a “Competitive Company?” The obvious suspects are listed in the agreement, such as Burger King, Jack-in-the-Box, Wendy’s, Arby’s, and Taco Bell.

But McDonald’s also expanded the definition of a “Competitive Company” to nonobvious fast-food restaurants like Domino’s Pizza, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Jamba Juice, Long John Silver’s, and Panera. Here is the full non-compete restriction:

Competitive Companies” shall mean any company in the restaurant industry (whether informal eating-out or ready-to-eat) that competes with the business of McDonald’s, including any business in which McDonald’s engaged during the term of your employment and any business that McDonald’s was actively considering conducting as of your Termination Date. Examples of Competitive Companies include, but are not limited to: Arby’s, BoJangle’s, Burger King/Hungry Jacks, Caffè Nero, Checker’s, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Costa, Culver’s, Denny’s, Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Brands, Five Guys, Greggs, Hardee’s, In-N-Out Burger, Jack-in-the-Box, Jamba Juice, Long John Silver’s Quick Service Restaurant Holdings (and all of its brands and subsidiaries), Panera Bread, Papa John’s, Popeye’s Chicken, Potbelly, Q-doba, Quiznos, Seven-Eleven, Sonic, Starbucks, Subway, Tim Horton’s, WaWa, Wendy’s, YUM Brands, Inc. (including, but not limited to, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and all of YUM Brands, Inc.’s subsidiaries) and their respective organizations, partnerships, ventures, sister companies, franchisees, affiliates or any organization in which they have an interest and that are involved in the restaurant industry (whether informal eating-out or ready-to-eat) anywhere in the world, or that otherwise compete with McDonald’s. You agree to consult with McDonald’s General Counsel, Jerry Krulewitch, or his successor, for clarification as to whether or not McDonald’s views a prospective employer, consulting client or other business relationship you may have or have had in the restaurant industry (whether informal eating-out or ready-to-eat) not listed above as a Competitive Company.

So is this sort of post-employment restriction enforceable? For Mr. Easterbrook, probably. He was the CEO of the company, and he agreed to receive substantial compensation in exchange for signing the agreement. CBS reports his severance payout may be worth $70 million and could increase if McDonald’s meets certain financial targets over the next three years.

But would a similar restriction be enforceable for your average manager or employee getting little to no severance pay? That is a different story.  An employer would probably have difficulty in convincing a judge such a broad restriction is necessary to protect a reasonable competitive interest. And such an interest is the touchstone for non-compete enforceability.

Use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn, if you have questions about this article or want to discuss the enforceability of your non-compete agreement. Since 2001 he has represented companies and individuals in drafting, negotiating, and litigating non-compete disputes.

Grand Rapids Business CourtOn October 23, 2019, the Michigan Supreme Court announced that the Hon. Terence J. Ackert has been assigned to the Kent County Business Court docket. Judge Ackert will join Judge Christopher Yates who also presides over this docket. Prior to this assignment, Judge Ackert presided over cases in the Family Division of the Circuit Court.

Judge Ackert is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Toledo College of Law. He became a judge on September 1, 2015.  Before taking the bench, he worked in private practice from 1984 through 2015. As a practicing attorney, Judge Ackert mostly serving as business counsel and trial attorney for closely held and family-owned businesses.

The Michigan Business Court Experiment Continues

The Michigan Business Court docket began in October 17, 2012, under Public Act 333. Under this Act, Michigan circuit courts with three or more judges were required to create a “specialized business court docket.”  Any case that meets the definition of a “business” or “commercial” dispute must be placed on the business docket.

The reasoning behind Michigan’s Business Courts is that it provides a case management structure intended to facilitate “more timely, effective, and predictable resolution of complex business cases.”

What does the assignment of a New Business Court Judge Mean?

Here are three points to consider about this business court assignment.

First, Judge Ackert will be in good company with Judge Yates. Our firm routinely represents clients in business disputes throughout Michigan. And with this experience, Judge Yates is at the top of the list when it comes to fair and effective Business Court Judges.

Third, for some time, Judge Yates had been the only business court judge for a busy Grand Rapids docket. Somehow he and his staff did not let this workload adversely affect the progress of cases. But the addition of Judge Ackert is probably very appreciated when it comes to moving cases toward resolution.

Second, Judge Ackert’s professional experience before taking the bench as legal counsel in a range of business matters – both transactional and litigation – is appreciated. Personally, I find judges who have experience in the “trenches” tend to be more effective when it comes to understanding the interplay of litigation and substantive law. Hopefully Judge Ackert will continue to prove this judicial theory to be true.

Michigan unemploymentThe Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) is implementing changes intended to make it easier and more convenient to obtain unemployment benefits. On August 22, 2019, the UIA will update its customer contact center using the leading phone technology to provide greater efficiency and more contact options. For both employers and individuals using the UIA’s system, this (probably) is good news.

More About the UIA

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance provides temporary income to unemployed workers who lost their job through no fault of their own. The unemployment taxes paid by employers are the funding source behind the program. The UIA offers an array of online services to both unemployed workers and employees, but clients can access the organization via phone, an online account, or in person at one of 13 local offices statewide.

The Last Time the UIA “Improved” the System.

The last major update to the UIA occurred under the Snyder Administration in 2013. However, court filings revealed that Michigan’s $47 million program to “improve” the UIA had to be “scaled back” after thousands of people were wrongfully denied benefits or hit with fraud claims. See Inside Michigan’s faulty unemployment system that hit thousands with fraud. Worse, these wrongful denials resulted in a cascade of financial issues for these individuals, including improper penalties and bankruptcies.

Needless to say, there is a high ceiling for improving the UIA’s system.

What Is Changing?

But the current changes appear to focus on improving access and customer service. Specifically, the changes to the UIA include:

  • Consolidating multiple phone lines into one main customer service number for employers.
  • New menu options will guide callers to the customer service unit most suited to addressing the caller’s need. This system should streamline the process for those contacting the agency and better direct them to compatible agents.
  • A new enhanced callback feature is intended to reduce the burden on callers previously forced to sit in call limbo, i.e., put on hold. Callers will have the option to hang up and receive a call back when their turn in the queue has been reached.
  • A real-time chat application will also be added to the Michigan Web Account Manager. This upgrade enables callers to avoid phones and messages and chat with customer service live in real-time. Those seeking to contact the UIA can find this convenient option within their Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) to connect with customer service representatives during normal business hours.

New Contact Information and Hours for the UIA

The UIA’s new call-in number is 1-855-484-2636. It will handle all inbound calls going forward. You can reach UIA Employer Customer Service at 1-855-484-2636 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For the hearing impaired, TTY service is available at 1-866-366-0004. You may also send a message online through the Michigan Web Account Manager or use the upcoming live chat feature beginning August 22.

If you are an employer who has questions about this article or for responding to a claim for unemployment benefits, use this link to contact Michigan attorney Jason Shinn. Our law firm collaborates with employers to assess when to oppose an unemployment claim and to best-position the company for successfully obtaining a denial of benefits.