Tag Archives: Michigan employment attorney

“Reasonable Accommodations” and “Undue Hardship” Defenses – It Comes Down to Money

A recent case involving the Americans with Disabilities Act offers employers an opportunity to consider two frequent issues under this statute: What is a reasonable accommodation and what must an employer show to establish an “undue hardship” defense to providing such an accommodation. The case, Searls v. Johns Hopkins Hosp. (1-21-16), resulted in the U.S. … Continue Reading

Key to Successfully Assessing ADA Accommodations Starts with Individualized Inquiry

An area under the Americans with Disabilities Act that can be problematic for employers and employees alike concerns conducting the individualized inquiry that is required to determine if an employee’s disability or another condition disqualifies the employee from a particular position. This issue recently played out in a federal district court case of (Siewertsen v Worthington … Continue Reading

The Price Tag for Settling Sex Discrimination Claims

A long-running sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) came to an end on November 25, 2015, when a Michigan federal district court approved a consent decree. Under that decree, Cintas Corporation agreed to pay $1.5 million in addition to a numerous other requirements for years to come. A copy of the … Continue Reading

Employer’s Investigation of Misconduct Called Into Question Allowing FMLA Claims to Go to Trial

An employer’s defense to a lawsuit brought under the Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA) was derailed after a judge agreed there was enough evidence for a jury to find that the employer investigated an employee’s work performance to find a “legitimate” reason to fire him after that employee requested leave. The case, Lankford v. … Continue Reading

Does Ruling in Favor of Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy Claim Have Broader Implications for Employers

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled for a Saginaw nurse who filed a wrongful discharge claim alleging he was fired in violation of public policy. As we previously noted, this case raised a question of whether Michigan’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act was the former employee’s exclusive remedy. In sum, Mr. Landin was terminated from his job at … Continue Reading

A $1.2 Million Verdict Depends Upon Balancing Michigan’s Whistleblower Protection Act against Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy

On November 4, 2015, the Michigan Supreme Court heard oral argument in a wrongful discharge in violation of public policy claim under Michigan law.  The central issue to be decided is whether that claim could be asserted or – as the employer contends – was the discharged employee limited exclusively to bringing a claim under … Continue Reading

Identifying Your Company’s Next HR Challenge: Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Earlier this year we wrote about the EEOC’s decision that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, which is made unlawful under Title VII. See Sexual Orientation Discrimination is Unlawful under Federal Law … For Now? On 10/29/2015, this issue was before a district court judge who agreed with the agency’s opinion, but … 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

Termination of Doctor’s Contract During Military Deployment Did not Violate USERRA

Employers won a victory at the expense of a surgeon deployed to Iraq for military service in a lawsuit concerning re-employment rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Slusher v. Shelbyville Hosp. Corp., (10/26/15). In January 2011, Richard Slusher, an orthopedic surgeon, signed a one-year contract with Shelbyville Hospital Corporation, d/b/a … Continue Reading

When Stealing Trade Secrets Don’t Use any Computer Devices – It Makes an Attorney’s Job Easier

Aliphcom, Inc. d/b/a Jawbone won an early legal battle in a lawsuit filed against five of its former employees and its rival Fitbit, Inc. Specifically, in a preliminary injunction hearing held on 10/20/2015, the individual defendant were ordered by a federal judge to return any confidential information they took and to allow their computers and … 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

Employee Fired for Facebook Postings Latest Example for Why Companies Need a Social Media Policy and Plan

Employee social media issues recently made headlines in the most deplorable way when an employee was fired on September 29, 2015, after he posted a picture of himself online with a colleague’s 3-year-old black son. The picture taken by Gerod Roth, the former employee, resulted (for reasons unknown) numerous bigoted and racists comments from the former … Continue Reading

Whistleblower Protection – It Takes More than Just Blowing a Whistle

A decision released on 10/1/2015 from the Department of Labor’s administrative review board (the “Board”) highlighted employment law issues arising at the intersection of whistleblowing, retaliation, and reasonable accommodation involving telecommunication. (Stewart v. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., released 10/1/15). In the decision, the Board affirmed an administrative law judge’s ruling against Lockheed’s former employee. The ruling … 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

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

Non-Solicitation Restrictions – A Valuable Tool for Protecting Your Company’s Customer Relationships

When it comes to post employment restrictions, non-compete agreements often get all the attention. In fact, such restrictions are a frequent subject of discussion on our law firm’s blog (Noncompete Restrictions: The First Line of Defense for Protecting the Company from Unfair Competition). However, as explained below, a carefully drafted non-solicitation provision should be in … 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

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

Is Telecommuting a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Michigan employers dodged a bullet (sort of) on when it comes to whether telecommuting must be considered as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Specifically, in a “judicial do-over,” the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in EEOC v. Ford revisited a prior decision (previously discussed here) that had concluded that employers may … Continue Reading

Judge Throws up Roadblock to Extending FMLA Protections to Same-sex Couples

We previously discussed the Department of Labor’s final rule that extended Family and Medical Leave Act protections to same-sex married couples. That rule was to apply regardless of the couple’s state of residence. But same-sex couples in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska will have to wait to enjoy the same benefits provided to heterosexual couples. … Continue Reading

Employer Charged with Unfair Labor Practice Because Employee Manual and Agreements Were Unlawful

Two annoyances in life often involve cliches and living out a cliche. This is especially true when the cliche is “shooting yourself in the foot.” But T-Mobile got to experience both last week when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that it engaged in unfair labor policies. The ruling arose out of T-Mobile’s employee … Continue Reading
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