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Detroit Employment Law Blog

What is 'color' discrimination?

United States employers cannot discriminate against their employees on the basis of "race" or "color." This means that an employer cannot make hiring, firing, promotion, pay or other work-related decisions on the basis of an individual's race or color. Most Michigan residents know what "race" means in this context, as it refers to whether someone is black, white, Latino, Asian or some other race. However, most don't have an entirely clear view of what "color" discrimination is.

How is color discrimination different from racial discrimination?

All about employment-related religious discrimination

Businesses and employers cannot discriminate against workers -- or potential workers -- on the basis of the worker's religious belief system in the United States. By virtue of the First Amendment, one of the primary principles of the United States is protection from religious discrimination. This is largely because the original founders of the United States had suffered from religious persecution in Europe, leading to escape to the "New World" where they could enjoy a freer life.

In addition to the right of the general population to live free of religious persecution in the United States, U.S. workers also enjoy protection from religious-based employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964, which prevents private and government employers from discriminating against potential and current employees as a result of their religions. For example, employers cannot pass you up for a promotion or fail to hire you for a job simply because your Christian, Hindu, Muslim or Jewish.

2 famous whistleblowers from recent history

Whistleblowers are people who witness unlawful or unethical behavior at their workplaces and decide to tell authorities and others about it. In most cases, people who "blow the whistle" on their employers receive more difficulty and headache than they do fame and notoriety, but sometimes, a whistleblower could go down in history.

Here are two examples of famous whistleblowers from recent history:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration whistleblower help

One of the biggest dangers of becoming a so-called "whistleblower" is the threat of employer retaliation. Imagine, for example, that you work for a construction firm that engages in numerous Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) safety violations because it's too "cheap" to pay for legally required safety improvements.

Nevertheless, the workers put up with the safety issues because they're thankful to have a job and they don't want to risk their incomes by complaining. After a co-worker suffered a serious injury, you've decided that enough is enough, and you've filed a complaint with OSHA to complain.

Instructors receive settlement in age-discrimination case

Two university instructors have reached a settlement in an age-discrimination dispute that will give each of them more than $200,000.

The two were teachers in the English as a second language program at Ohio State University. They claimed that the director of the ESL program tried to force out older employees. In a settlement reached with the instructors, Ohio State:

4 common types of workplace discrimination

Your workplace is your second home. In fact, it's probably where you spend most of your waking hours. Not everyone has the luxury of a job, workplace and coworkers they genuinely enjoy. However, at the very least, no one should have to put up with any kind of harassment or discrimination while on the job.

Sadly, workplace discrimination continues to be a problem in Michigan workplaces, and employment law attorneys hear from clients who have been discriminated against time and time again. Here are four of the most common types of discrimination that individuals encounter in the workplace:

What is sex-based discrimination?

Sex-based employment discrimination is common throughout the world, even in the United States. At its most fundamental level, this discrimination involves the treatment of another person in an unfavorable way as a result of his or her sex. Fortunately, federal and state laws protect employees from this kind of discrimination and they can fight back if they've been victims of the behavior.

Here is some important information from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding sex-based discrimination at work:

Can quitting a job be the same as being fired?

Michigan is an employment-at-will state, which means employers can dismiss employees for no reason, good reason, or even a bad reason.

This does not mean, however, that an employer can fire an employee for an illegal reason. When that happens, it's called wrongful termination and the wronged employee might have a legal claim.

What are the limitations of a noncompetition clause?

It's common for employment agreements to contain a noncompetition clause. Many employers expose trade secrets and client lists to employees and they don't want their employees using this confidential information to compete against them unfairly. As long as noncompete clauses are reasonable, courts will often require employees to adhere to them. However, clear limitations apply to these agreements and an employee subjected to an unreasonable noncompetition clause may not have to follow it.

In order for a court to enforce a noncompetition clause, the following must be true:

What's a 'qui tam' action?

A qui tam action is one that an employee initiates against an employer that committed fraud against the government. Qui tam actions are not that common, however, because employees are often afraid to report their employer's unlawful activity -- due to a fear of negative employment retaliation by the employer. This is why employees who wish to report the government fraud committed by their employers need to learn about the federal whistleblower laws that protect them.

Employees also need to know that qui tam actions are filed under seal. In this way, the identity of the whistleblower remains confidential and the employee may be able to remain anonymous. The problem is, employers are often able to deduce which employee blew the whistle on them, even if the identity of the complainant remains a secret in the legal paperwork. Moreover, if -- after the government fully investigates the matter -- the complaint moves into litigation, the employee's identity will later be known by the employer during the legal proceedings.

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