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Detroit Employment Law Blog

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

Former employee sues Detroit casino for discrimination

Workplace discrimination can take many forms, some of them blatant and some of them quite subtle. Regardless of the severity of such discrimination, all victims feel betrayed by these acts. Seeking a solution with help from a legal advocate provides a way for victims to fight back against discrimination.

A former 19-year employee with MGM Detroit is suing the casino operator on grounds that he suffered sexual discrimination in the workplace. The suit also claims that his termination occurred in a wrongful manner. Below are the details of this case as reported by a news source.

  • The worker alleges that his termination in February occurred "in part or entirely because of his age, race or sex."
  • Before these most recent developments, the former shift manager claims that the casino denied him time off under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) ten years ago to care for his ill daughter.
  • In 2015, the plaintiff alleges he was once again the victim of discrimination by the casino when he had difficulty acquiring workers' compensation for a workplace injury.
  • The plaintiff also alleges that he suffered retaliation for playing a role in an effort to unionize casino workers.
  • Finally, the former employee claims that supervisors passed him over three separate times for promotion.

Our tips for Qui Tam whistleblowers in Michigan

Choosing to become a whistleblower is a big step that requires careful consideration. Some Detroit employees may avoid blowing the whistle, but many others feel it is right to call out wrongdoing of any kind.

When employees learn that their superior is defrauding the government, they may pursue a Qui Tam action for whistleblowers. Such an action allows the government to try to recover any funds it lost to fraud. Whistleblowers can benefit from acting on their knowledge of fraud in two ways.

How to review an employment contract

When presented with a job offer, it's easy to get so excited that you agree to anything that's requested of you. This includes signing an employment contract before reviewing the finer details.

Here are three things to focus on as you review an employment contract:

  • Job description: This gives a clear overview of the tasks you'll be responsible for upon starting your job. If you don't understand anything in the description, such as a detail that is too vague, ask for clarification.
  • Terms and conditions: If there are specific terms and conditions, such as those associated with receiving severance, make sure you're comfortable with them.
  • Compensation: This is the one area that most people focus on the majority of their time. In addition to your hourly pay or salary, focus on compensation such as bonuses, commission, profit sharing and retirement match.
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