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Sterling Employment Law

Employees' Rights Archives

Same-sex couples now applying for military benefits

Military personnel in Michigan and across the nation are waiting to see the resolution of a conflict between state and federal legislation. In Texas, the National Guard refused to process any requests for benefits between same-sex couples on Sept. 3. The Pentagon ordered that the requests be processed after part of the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. The act included a section that says that states don't need to honor same-sex unions that are legal in other states. The Pentagon speculated that Texas seemed to be the only state that would deny same-sex couples employee rights.

Michigan court upholds employee rights for state workers

A Michigan court upheld a controversial right-to-work law that bans union fees as a condition of employment in the state. Employee rights were cited as the reason, but Michigan's heavily unionized work force saw the decision as a political strike against labor unions. The judges split 2-1 on the legality of the measure, a law that saw protests by thousands of union workers at the Capitol.

A living wage is a human right

The current minimum wage is $7.40 in the state of Michigan and has been the standard for five years. There has not been much in the way of legislation to change it. However, an effort being led by workers' organizations in the cities of Detroit and Lansing aim to change that. Both Democrat and Republican based workers' unions have come together in an effort that they say will help small business in the state and create jobs for the struggling local economy.

Michigan supreme court refuses to opine on right-to-work

Michigan's Supreme Court recently denied a request from the state's governor to opine on the constitutionality of the state's newly enacted right-to-work law. In denying the request, the court questioned whether granting the request would be an appropriate exercise of its judicial discretion. This refusal by the court may result in numerous court challenges of the controversial legislation.

Unpaid internships come under fire

A series of labor lawsuits against Fox Entertainment and Gawker Media has sparked new concern regarding unpaid internships, which are a common way for college students in Michigan and elsewhere to gain industry experience. The companies were sued by former interns who alleged that they were owed back pay for their service. Many have responded in support, agreeing that unpaid internships are exploitation and abuse at best. Others add that unpaid internships create a division between those who can afford to work for free and those who cannot.

Goodwill pays as little as 22 cents per hour

Anyone who lives or works in Michigan may be interested in reports involving Goodwill. Some supporters of employee rights were outraged when the non-profit organization was reported to pay disabled employees hourly wages significantly below the mandatory minimum wage. Some employees earned less than one dollar for every hour worked, with a reported low of twenty-two cents. Meanwhile, many executives working for the organization have salaries in the six figures.

EEOC files suit on behalf of disabled workers

Detroit residents may be interested in a case brought on in behalf of disabled plant workers. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit seeking to uphold employees' rights against a company that allegedly hired mentally disabled men to work in a turkey plant and subjected the workers to mental and physical abuse. The alleged behavior occurred for more than three decades, beginning in the 1970s. The EEOC alleges that workers were paid only $65 per month, which works out to 41 cents per hour. The men reportedly did not receive any raises while working there. The EEOC claims that the company imposed discriminatory employment terms on the workers in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. For example, it is alleged that the men were denied bathroom breaks, required to work when ill and subjected to unwarranted punishments. 

Film critic Roger Ebert takes 'leave of presence' to fight cancer

Lots of Detroit readers look for film critic Roger Ebert's signature endorsement "two thumbs up" when they scan a movie's poster or a DVD's cover. Ebert, who has written for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years, is one of the most trusted reviewers in the entertainment industry and his wry, witty personality has endeared him to many.

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