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Detroit Employment Law Blog

Governor's directive protects gay, transgender state employees

Michigan's new governor, Gretchen Whitmer, recently signed an executive order that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) state employees from discrimination. It also requires that the same protections extend to employees who work for companies that do business with the state, such as state contractors, or businesses that receive state loans, grants and such.

The order was praised by leaders in the community. Whitmer said the executive order is a step toward the state government being "a model of equality of opportunity."

Understanding the nation's whistleblower laws

The laws that govern our nation are quite complex, making it difficult for those without a legal education to understand them in-depth. To make matters even more confusing, laws change frequently as the country continues to evolve and grow. New laws are passed as needed and outdated laws are removed as they become obsolete.

Whistleblower laws are especially complex and contain many separate statutes, depending upon the industry and location in question. Each state, including Michigan, has its own set of governing laws. While these statutes are often similar from state to state, it is wise for potential whistleblowers to learn as much as possible about whistleblower law in their geographical region. Unfortunately, this can be a daunting task for those who just wish to expose wrongdoing.

How does the law protect the disabled?

The Americans With Disabilities Act protects the disabled. Signed into law in 1990, the ADA makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of disability. The ADA has been the law of the land for nearly 30 years, but it still can be confusing to people.

Take this true-false quiz to see how well you understand the ADA - and learn how it could protect you.

Think twice before you sign that executive-level contract

If you are on the hunt for an executive-level position, you might be tempted to take the first offer that comes your way -- especially if you really want to work for a particular company. No matter how excited you are about your prospects, however, it is usually wiser to wait a little before signing a contract. This gives you some time to review its terms and decide whether you should accept the contract as written or negotiate for better terms.

In the executive world, negotiation is common, even between prospective employees and employers. Some companies even expect potential employees to make a counteroffer after reviewing their employment contracts -- so they never put their best offer out front right away. However, many people looking for a career position fear that negotiating will hurt their chances of securing the job of their dreams.

3 workers to sue a Dearborn Tim Hortons for race discrimination

Three workers, who previously worked together at both a Detroit and Dearborn Tim Hortons, announced their intentions to file a federal race discrimination lawsuit against their former employer on Dec. 18. Each of the African-American workers alleges that they were paid an hourly rate that is below minimum wage and that their supervisors used racial slurs in interacting with them.

One of the employees who filed suit had worked as a head backer for Tim Hortons for 18 years before her firing on Oct. 24. The 43-year-old Detroit woman notes that white co-workers were given raises, called in sick without being questioned, left work early without being punished and were given "easy jobs" to perform -- the opposite of what she was subjected to herself.

Ex state official says she faced discrimination, retaliation

The woman who until October headed the internal affairs department for the Michigan State Police is suing the department and its top two officials, claiming she was forced to retire.

The woman, who is black, has accused the department of racial discrimination and violating whistleblower laws. She also alleges invasion of privacy, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Time limits on retaliation complaints

Imagine this: you notice a workplace safety and health issue. You then engage in a protected activity -- by reporting the problem -- to keep yourself and others from harm. Maybe you even report the issue to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. You were just trying to do the right thing, but your employer suddenly retaliates against you. Maybe your hours get cut or you're given an unfavorable position within the company. Maybe you're even fired.

You know that you have some legal protections as a whistleblower, and you want to stand up for your rights -- which is good. However, you need to remember that you have to act in a timely manner.

25 percent of discrimination claims center around age

Typically, when you think of workplace discrimination, there's a good chance you think about bias against people based on race or gender. There's a good reason for this perception, as the unfortunate reality is that many people do face harassment and discrimination because of the ethnic group they belong to or because of their gender, and they have been fighting against this behavior for generations.

However, it is important to remember that these two areas are not the only ones where discrimination takes place. For instance, did you know that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) keeps track of all the claims for discrimination that workers file, and they say that nearly 25 percent of those claims actually center around discrimination based on age?

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)".

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