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Detroit Employment Law Blog

Watch out for these employment contract red flags

When presented with an employment contract, you want nothing more than to give it a quick glance, sign on the dotted line and get started in your new position.

While you hope that everything checks out, don't assume that the contract will suit your every requirement. There are red flags to watch for, including the following:

  • Noncompete clause: This can limit your ability to get another job at a competing company or in the same industry, should you decide to move on in the future. It can also make it difficult, if not impossible, to start your own company in the same space.
  • Compensation clause: Make sure you're clear of when and how you'll receive compensation. For example, if you negotiated a deferred bonus, make sure it's included in your employment contract.
  • Creative provisions: For example, if you secure a patent during your employment, your contract should outline whether it belongs to you or your employer. If you're not comfortable with this provision, you need to work it out before signing the contract. It's not something you should try to negotiate in the future.

Diversity and inclusion may be getting their day in Michigan

Diversity became an important term about 20 years ago when Michigan and many other states wanted to create a new workplace culture without the old practices that kept good workers on the outside looking in. But, in many ways, it was downgraded to a buzzword that guided some trainings and policies without helping the people who needed it.

Now, some business leaders are encouraging others to consider inclusion, or bringing in more of the diverse elements that give the Wolverine State a strong workforce and a tradition of progress. Part of this effort is defining diversity and inclusion as useful terms for employers and employees alike.

Michigan activists launch new effort to stop LGBTQ discrimination

Michigan begin the era of anti-discrimination at the forefront of the nation. The Civil Rights Act passed in Lansing in 1976, banning discrimination based on religion, color, gender and a variety of other protected attributes. But many activists have said the Wolverine State did not go far enough, and 2020 may be the year that this mission is accomplished.

A coalition of advocates, including business leaders and legislators, have begun the process of getting a ballot measure in the 2020 election that would let voters decide to add a clause against discrimination based on sexual orientation. The group has until May 27 to gather more than 300,000 signatures from Michigan voters in order to present the measure on the ballot this year.

Points to discuss with HR before signing an employment contract

When you're presented with an employment contract, it's your job to thoroughly review it to ensure that you understand the terms and conditions. You should only sign it if you're 100 percent comfortable with the details, and fully understand the impact on your potential employment.

While you hope you understand everything, there's a chance you'll have some questions or concerns. Here are some of the points you may need to discuss with HR before signing:

  • Pay schedule: If it's not outlined in your employment contract, ask about the pay schedule, which includes how often you're paid and the manner in which you receive your money.
  • Benefits: Even if all your benefits are outlined in the employment contract, you may still have questions about some or all of them. For example, it's not good enough to know that the company provides you with health insurance. You need to understand the details of the policy, as this will impact your finances and potentially your health.
  • Reasons for termination: It's awkward to ask about this, but it's better than signing an employment contract you don't understand. If you're unsure of why your employment can be terminated, ask for clarification.

Michigan senators consider more whistleblower protections

A government service is not serving the citizens that it was designed to help. A product could pose a danger to the people who use it and bring it into their homes. A car lacks a safety feature that could save lives. There are many reasons that a person could feel the need to report a problem, and there are sadly many ways a person could pay for that decision.

But the employees who try to protect the citizens and consumers of Michigan deserve the right to speak their truths. In a move dating back to the discovery of dangerous public water in Flint and other cities in the Wolverine State, lawmakers are seeking more whistleblower protections in the state law books with a new bill.

Michigan county settles whistleblower lawsuit

For much of the history of Michigan, workers could be scared into silence about problems at work. No one wants to lose their job as a sacrifice for reporting unsafe conditions, unfair supervisors or employee harassment. Fortunately, the governments in Washington and Lansing have made it a little easier for whistleblowers to avoid retaliation.

A recent lawsuit against a county in the Wolverine State wrapped up with a settlement for two employees who claimed they were dismissed unfairly. The dispute began in 2017 when the man and woman were fired from the county clerk's office.

Should I disclose my mental health condition to my employer?

Searching for a new job is stressful, even when unemployment is low, and you may find a new position quickly. One thing you may be concerned about is how a potential employer will react if a company knows you have a mental health condition, such as depression, PTSD or bipolar disorder. Will that stop you from being hired? 

Mental health and legal protection

First, mental health conditions are protected under the American Disabilities Act (ADA). That means no employer can discriminate against hiring you simply because you have a mental health condition. If you can perform the job, with reasonable accommodations, you are protected against facing any harassment, job loss or not being hired or promoted.

Do at-will employees have any job protections?

If you are one of the many Detroit area workers who are not protected by a union, you more than likely are an at-will employee. You may not even realize you are an at-will employee though. Only employees who have signed a specific employment contract (often upper management or union members) are not at-will employees. This means that as an at-will employee, your employment can be terminated at any time, for nearly any reason.

There are many benefits of having an employment contract

While most employers understand the benefits of providing new hires with an employment contract, this doesn't necessarily hold true across the board. There will always be companies that want to skip this step for one reason or the next (all of which benefit them).

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