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Detroit Employment Law Blog

Get legal help if your employer violates your severance agreement

Nearly all employment contracts for Michigan executives include details about severance pay should the work arrangement come to an end. It is an important part of building trust between the employer and the executive. However, there are occasions when an employer wants to back out of the severance arrangement portion of a contract.

We understand how frustrating this is to an executive who has always worked to abide by the terms of the agreement. After putting time, heart and soul into a company, the last thing an employee expects is contract violations. While challenging a denial of severance is complicated, a contract is a contract in the eyes of the law. This means that you have the right to seek a legal solution.

What does it take to prove workplace discrimination?

In all American states, including Michigan, it is against the law to discriminate against workers because of age, gender, race, disability other protected attributes. Unfortunately, many employers continue to break these laws because it can be difficult to prove any unlawful behavior occurred. Without real, tangible evidence to rely on in a legal setting, workplace discrimination claims can fail.

If you know you are suffering from workplace discrimination or if you are not quite sure you are a victim, an attorney can help. Starting with the initial consultation, a lawyer can take an objective look at your situation and help you identify discrimination. Once this step is complete, you and your attorney can start working on a legal strategy that will satisfy your need for justice. To accomplish your goals, you must prove that the following has occurred.

  • Your employers treat you differently than they do workers of other genders, ages, races, religions or national origins
  • Your employers favored another worker with equal qualifications over you simply because the other worker was a different race, gender, etc.
  • There exists no legitimate reason for your employers to treat you differently than they do other employees

Have a plan before laying off an employee

As a company owner or C-level executive, there may come a point when you're staffed with the responsibility of laying off an employee. This is never an easy thing to do, but it comes along with the territory.

Before you do anything, it's important to have a clear idea of the steps you'll take. Here are some questions you can answer to ensure that you have the right plan in place:

  • How will you notify the employee that you are laying them off?
  • Do you have a plan for dealing with the reaction of the employee, such as if they become angry?
  • Have you reviewed your employee handbook to ensure that you're following the proper layoff procedures?
  • Have you reviewed the employee's employment contract?
  • Is the employee entitled to severance pay as a result of language in their contract? If not, will you offer it anyway?
  • What types of resources and support will you offer the employee?
  • Do you have a system in place for communicating this message in a compassionate manner?
  • Does it make sense to have at least one other person in the room with you when discussing the layoff with the employee?

Whistleblowers are critical in making America a wonderful place

Fraud in all of its forms undermines the efforts honest U.S. citizens make to enrich our nation. Whether it is massive corporate schemes or unethical small business activities, fraud continues to plague Michigan and the entire country. Fortunately, whistleblowers continue to emerge from the shadows, intent on fighting against wrongdoing of any type.

In our practice, many people visit our offices unsure about whether they wish to expose illegal and unethical activities. We cannot tell you what you should do in these situations. What we can do is to share with you how whistleblowers consistently help to make our country better for all of its citizens.

Pregnant women have protected rights in Michigan workplaces

For many women and couples, starting a family requires much careful consideration, especially for families in which the woman works. One of the most common concerns is how the mother's decision to get pregnant might affect her career. In all 50 states, it is illegal to engage in workplace discrimination against pregnant women, but what does that truly mean?

We know that laws protecting workers are not always easy to understand. Using the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as our guide, we would like to highlight several things that your employer cannot do if you are pregnant. This should help you identify any workplace discrimination that occurs against you if you are working while you are pregnant. Our staff also wants you to know that your rights as a pregnant worker have both state and federal level protections.

  • Your boss cannot fire you just because you are pregnant
  • Your employers cannot treat you differently than they treat other workers
  • Your boss cannot reduce your hours based solely on pregnancy
  • Your superiors cannot allow you to suffer harassment because of pregnancy

Key questions to answer when negotiating a severance package

It doesn't matter if you're in the process of reviewing an employment contract or dealing with the aftermath of your termination, it's critical to understand your legal rights and the steps you can take to protect them.

For example, negotiating a severance package is extremely important. If you have the opportunity to do this before signing an employment contract, it always makes sense to do so.

Important information about whistleblower retaliation

Choosing to become a whistleblower is not an easy decision to make. Even in the best-case scenario, potential whistleblowers have thought long and hard about whether to speak out. Some of the things to consider if you're in this position include:

  • The possibility that you may not remain anonymous
  • The possibility that your employers may try to retaliate
  • The possibility that you will lose your privacy

Retaliation on the part of an employer is one of the most disheartening byproducts of blowing the whistle. Although retaliation is 100% illegal, many angry employers still attempt to seek revenge against whistleblowers. Wrongful termination, in particular, is a common occurrence after an employee speaks out.

Subtle signs of age discrimination in the workplace

As workers reach middle age, they face a new challenge: stereotypes. Despite being outlawed, age discrimination remains a real problem in America. Just how prevalent is it?

In one study cited by the Society for Human Resource Management, 56% of older workers were either laid off or left jobs under circumstances that suggest they were forced out. Illegal age discrimination can have a significant impact on the livelihood of affected workers.

Examples of retaliation after filing a discrimination claim

Unfortunately, workplace discrimination remains a big problem in Detroit and other U.S. cities. However, in the enlightened world of today, victims of discrimination know that they can take action against those who violate their rights. Understanding these rights often gives victims the courage to file a discrimination complaint.

Federal protections, including protection against retaliation, exist for those who file workplace discrimination complaints. However, many employers or managers still seek revenge against workers for filing a complaint. The problem for many victims is lacking certainty that retaliation is actually taking place. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides several examples of retaliation as outlined below.

  • Terminating or demoting a worker based on his or her workplace discrimination complaint
  • Subjecting an employee to harassing comments or behavior after he or she filed a complaint
  • Placing information in a worker's employee file about his or her efforts to seek a remedy against workplace discrimination
  • Blocking a worker's right to seek promotion because he or she filed a discrimination claim
  • Taking away a worker's right to the same company benefits (perks) that other employees enjoy
  • Being openly hostile towards an employee who is pursuing a workplace discrimination claim

Should you sign a contract with a noncompete agreement?

Before you sign an employment contract, it's imperative to review the terms and conditions. If there's anything that makes you uncomfortable, such as the inclusion of a noncompete agreement, you'll want to discuss it with the company before you put pen to paper.

For a noncompete agreement to be considered valid, it must include the following:

  • Be reasonable in regard to time, geography and scope
  • Be available for review by the employee before signing
  • Protect a legitimate business interest
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