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Detroit Employment Law Blog

The glass ceiling is still out of reach for Detroit women

When Hillary Clinton failed to become the nation's first female president in America, many women took this as a sign that things are not improving for women in the workplace. Logically, we know that some good change has occurred for working ladies, but is it enough to put a crack in that sturdy glass ceiling?

As workplace discrimination lawyers, we think the glass ceiling does contain many small, perhaps hairline-sized fractures. However, we also know that women still suffer from significant workplace discrimination. Today, there are many female corporate executives, but many of them do not receive the same treatment that their male counterparts enjoy. Examples include:

  • Less income for the same or similar job positions
  • Passing over women for promotions
  • Sexual harassment from male coworkers
  • Refusing to hire qualified female executives

A former Chase bank manager wins a $370,000 whistleblower lawsuit

The 36-year-old former manager who once worked at both a Warren and Southfield Chase bank was awarded $370,000 at the conclusion of an arbitration session earlier this month.

In the man's wrongful termination lawsuit that was filed in federal court in Detroit soon after his firing in July of 2017, the Dearborn resident chronicled what he believed resulted in his dismissal from his job.

EEOC sues company for alleged disability discrimination

After an office manager at a South Carolina company suffered a health setback and had to be hospitalized, she asked her employer for medical leave. The company fired her instead, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The suit alleges the company denied a request by an office manager for medical leave after the employee was hospitalized for a disability. The company then dismissed her. The EEOC's suit also alleges that -- in retaliation for the employee's request -- the company recruited other candidates for the office manager position and refused to rehire the employee, who expressed interest in being rehired into the position.

What does religious discrimination at work look like?

Many people working in Michigan wonder why it is so difficult for them to identify workplace discrimination. In some cases, victims need their jobs and simply wish or hope that they are imagining the discrimination. Other times, workers know deep down, but they choose to put the matter out of their minds. Again, the need to work and earn an income often means ignoring any suspicions workers may have about workplace discrimination.

One of the most tragic forms of discrimination at work involves unfair treatment of employees because of their religious beliefs and practices. While it might be difficult for others to understand a faith outside of their own, unfair treatment in a work situation is still wrong. In an effort to help potential victims identify religious discrimination at work, below are four examples of wrongful behaviors.

  • Harassing you about your religion (e.g., making derogatory comments)
  • Segregating you from others because of your religious practices (e.g., giving you a position away from the public because of religious attire)
  • Denying you reasonable religious accommodations (e.g., not allowing a Muslim woman to wear a headscarf)
  • Forcing you to participate in religious activities (e.g., demanding that Jewish employees participate in Christmas activities)

What are some examples of whistleblower retaliation?

Deciding to join the ranks of whistleblowers in the United States is a huge decision. Many people fear retaliation from their employer or their co-workers. Unfortunately, there are times when these fears have a basis in reality. Retaliation against whistleblowers does occur in some cases, even here in the Detroit region.

What makes these situations especially problematic is that it can be difficult for whistleblowers to recognize retaliation. Some of the questions they ask themselves and others may include:

  • Is it my imagination or is it retaliation?
  • Why are my co-workers suddenly holding me at arm's length?
  • Does my supervisor know that I am a whistleblower?
  • Why am I receiving so many disciplinary actions at work?

A former Detroit Foundation Hotel worker sues for discrimination

A human resources coordinator, who worked for the Detroit Foundation Hotel up until last year, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against her former employer. In her federal court filing, she outlines how the hotel's management referred to her other African-American colleagues using derogatory language. She also notes that they weren't given promotions because of their skin color.

The boutique hotel where the plaintiff worked is located in the space that formerly housed the Detroit Fire Headquarters. The iconic downtown building was restored by developers and re-opened to the public in 2017. A year later, it was named Time Magazine's World 100 Greatest Places of 2018.

Putting a tight focus on executive employment contract clauses

Many employment attorneys talk about what executive contracts should and should not contain. We have written about and discussed contract clauses several times in our legal blog. These topics are important to executives concerned about protecting themselves, but sometimes, these discussions are a bit too general.

We wanted to take a few moments to put a tighter focus on three clauses that frequently appear in employment contracts. Hopefully, our insight can help all executives in the Detroit region acquire a contract that is as beneficial to them as it is to their employers. To add an extra layer of protection, consider acquiring legal counsel to evaluate your agreement prior to signing.

Workplace discrimination can occur during the hiring process

All over the Detroit region and other Michigan cities, more and more employees are standing up against workplace discrimination. This is a sign of growing awareness about these issues across the nation. However, it is crucial for workers to understand that discrimination can occur before employment even begins.

Employers must conduct the application and interview process without purposely or even accidentally singling out potential workers in a negative way. Protected categories for employees include race, religion, age, pregnancy and gender.

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.

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