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Detroit Employment Law Blog

A Warren firefighter alleges racial discrimination by coworkers

On Dec. 10, a federal jury in Detroit will begin hearing arguments related to a workplace discrimination lawsuit filed against the City of Warren. The plaintiff, who is a firefighter of Cuban descent, had filed a lawsuit earlier this year accusing his co-workers and supervisors of using racial slurs while interacting with him.

In the firefighter's suit, he chronicled how he routinely heard his co-workers use the terms "spooks" and "chimps" to describe his African-American colleagues. He also claimed that one of his own lieutenants had once shared with him that "Cubans were just like (n-word)".

Former Livingston County employee files whistleblower lawsuit

The former veterans services director of Livingston County, Michigan, has filed a lawsuit against the county and the chairman of its Veterans Services Committee, contending he was fired for reporting what he perceived as misconduct by the chairman.

The man, who filed the lawsuit Nov. 21, said he reported his suspicions that the chairman was misappropriating donations that had been received by the department.

An attorney can help you negotiate a better executive contract

Being hired as an executive at a company can come with a lot of perks including a nice base salary with opportunities for you to earn bonuses. While all of these may leave you wanting to ask where you need to sign your contract so that you can get started, you may benefit from having an attorney review it and even negotiate a little on your behalf.

One reason that you may want to bring an attorney into the fold before you sign your contract is so that they can negotiate what your job title should be. This could be helpful to you if you were to seek a job elsewhere in the future. It sends a message about the caliber of work you can competently handle.

Is your employer breaking the law?

Workers in the United States are trained to understand that the employer is in charge, and they need to follow directions at all times. In certain situations, this is fine. However, this mindset does sometimes cause workers to think they have to ignore unethical or even illegal behavior because they are not in charge.

This is not the case. You can report illegal behavior, and you have legal protections in place if you become a whistleblower. It is very important to understand all of your rights and how these whistleblower protections work.

I'm an at-will employee: Was I wrongfully terminated?

If you suspect that you have a viable claim for wrongful termination, don't be fooled by an employer who tries to say that you don't have a case because you were an "at-will" employee. At-will employment is a term used to describe an employment relationship in which the employer can choose to terminate the employment relationship without notice and without reason.

In fact, all employment relations are automatically presumed to be at-will relationships unless the employer and employee entered into an employment contract that says something different. Nevertheless, one of the exemptions to "at-will" employment is wrongful termination. In other words, if your employer fires you for an unlawful reason, then the at-will employment relationship doesn't apply.

What constitutes pregnancy discrimination?

There was a time in the past when pregnancy meant the end of a working woman's career. A pregnant woman could not work in the eyes of most employers. Therefore, before pregnancy discrimination laws existed, many women found themselves not being hired, being terminated from their jobs or facing other negative employment consequences as soon as they became pregnant. This was devastating for them because it would often happen at exactly the moment when they needed their jobs the most.

Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers cannot discriminate against pregnant women when:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Determining pay
  • Giving job assignments
  • Offering promotions
  • Training
  • Laying off
  • Awarding fringe benefits

5 mistakes you're making with your employment contract

Years and years of study and work go into building a successful career. But how much time will you put into studying your employment contract?

Unfortunately, if you don't know what's in the "fine print," then your compensation, job satisfaction and job security could be jeopardized.

When federal employees 'blow the whistle'

No federal employee should have to keep his or her mouth shut after viewing unlawful behavior at work. In fact, the federal Whistleblower Protection Act was created for the express purpose of protecting government workers who witnessed immoral, wrongful or illegal conduct at their jobs -- so that they can report it to authorities without fear of consequences.

Congress passed the act in 1989 to "strengthen and improve protection for the rights of federal employees, to prevent reprisals, and to help eliminate wrongdoing within the government." The act gives the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) the power to represent and protect whistleblowers. If you've witnessed wrongdoing, you can go directly to the OSC to report the following misconduct:

  • Any legal violations relating to laws, rules or regulations.
  • Any types of gross mismanagement.
  • The wasting of government funds and resources.
  • Abuses of authority by government employees and officials.
  • The endangerment of public safety and health.

Advice for negotiating a severance package

When a professional- or executive-level employee is going to get laid off at work, the employee will often receive a severance package from his or her employer. Perhaps, for example, the employee will receive a year's worth of pay and a year of insurance benefits in exchange for the untimely loss of his or her job. Such severance packages can involve a lot of money, and they can be very helpful for an employee's financial security, so it's wise to take care when negotiating such an agreement with an employer.

Here are several things employees should consider when negotiating a severance package:

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