NachtLaw, P.C. - Nacht & Roumel, P.C.
Protect Your Rights.
Call Today 888-312-7173

Michigan and Ohio Legal News Blog

Ageism in the workplace

Many longtime workers claim that they are being targeted for layoffs because of their age or health status, but federal law is often of little help. We pursue age discrimination lawsuits in Michigan and Ohio and we use both federal and state laws as tools. The article suggests that there is something particularly difficult about proving age discrimination. In fact, all discrimination cases are subject to motions for summary judgment. These are motions brought by the employer before trial to ask the judge to dismiss the case. Nationally, employers win these motions well over half the time. These motions are based on the idea that "no genuine issues of material fact" exist upon which a jury could find liability. But the judge decides such motions without ever hearing testimony. Snippets of deposition testimony are strung together to suggest that the plaintiff has no evidence. We would never allow someone to be found guilty of a crime without live testimony being heard in the courtroom, but that is the norm in employment discrimination lawsuits. Less verbal or clever plaintiffs are particularly vulnerable, so are people struggling with pain or illness. A jury seeing them live would tell that the lawyer was twisting their words. The constitution promises jury trials in civil cases, but that promise is essentially meaningless for most fired employees. It is time for Congress to make a change. 

Why haven't Congress and state legislatures moved to protect Gays and Lesbians?

It may surprise many of our readers but, astonishingly, it is still legal to fire someone because he is gay in much of the United States -- including Ohio and Michigan. 

 A federal appeals court in Chicago recently interpreted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to state that sex discrimination now includes sexual orientation discrimination.  That ruling applies in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.  Many states on the coasts have state laws that protect Gays and Lesbians from being fired, but no federal law does.  

A New York federal appeals court is considering the same issue as the Chicago court, and, not surprisingly, the Trump Administration has taken the position that if Congress wants to change the law to protect gays, it should do so, but the Administration claims judges should not decide to interpret the law differently.  That position is consistent with the traditional conservative approach to the role of judges in interpreting statutes.  

What is surreal about this is that probably eighty present of the population would support extending employment law protections to gays.  A clear majority of the country now supports the gay marriage ruling by the Supreme Court, which historically was a much more controversial and less popular position than the right of gays not to be fired. 

Why haven't Congress and state legislatures moved to protect Gays and Lesbians?  Ironically, in many states, Democrats have held up legislation because Republicans refuse to extend the laws to apply to transgender people.  And the truth is, Gay Rights in employment is hardly a Republican priority.  So here we are.  The culture has changed:  it is simply socially unacceptable to fire someone for being gay, but the law is stuck in the last century. 

So will the Courts act?  I think so.  If the Supreme Court saw fit to find Gay marriage a constitutional right, then I believe they will find a way to extend sex discrimination laws to Gays and Lesbians.  And that is what judges are paid to do-- to interpret an important historical law consistent with a modern, thoughtful understanding of the words and social concepts in the law. 

Depression, anxiety, PTSD: Discrimination based on mental illness

Even though one in five Americans struggle with mental health issues each year, negative stereotypes persist and those who struggle receive little compassion. Many people hide these struggles from employers. The response of one employer to a request for mental health days offers a guide on what should occur.

And civilians are not the only affected. Veterans often suffer invisible scars left from the battlefield. PTSD can occur following any traumatic event and greater awareness helps people recognize symptoms, so they can seek care. June was actually PTSD awareness month. The failure of another employer to hire a veteran with a service dog is an example of what should not occur.

NachtLaw wins Disability Discrimination Case in the Michigan Supreme Court

Bettina Winkler was a middle schooler who was denied admission to Notre Dame Prep, a private Catholic high school in Pontiac, Michigan. She was the only student who had attended their middle school denied admission to the high school. Administrators allegedly told Winkler's parents they didn't accept learning disabled students, and that she should attend a public school because "they take anybody."

A lawyer should negotiate or review your severance package offer

It is no longer a world in which a person starts working at a company in his or her 20s with an expectation of working there until retirement. It is more likely nowadays for a person to have several employers throughout his or her career. However, sometimes the employment relationship ends because the employee chooses to leave and sometimes it ends because of termination or layoff. 

When a worker is laid off or terminated, he or she may be owed or offered a severance package, which is basically a separation agreement to continue certain benefits beyond the job, provide severance pay or impose certain terms on the parties. It can be extremely important not to accept the terms or sign a severance offer until you have an experienced employment lawyer review it or even step in and negotiate better terms on your behalf, if possible. 

Why are non-compete agreements popular?

This article "Companies Compete but Won't Let Their Workers Do the Same" is a thoughtful piece and there is much I agree with, especially in regard to lower wage workers and the depressing effect of non-competes on wages. But the author fails to note the real reason why non-competes are popular: companies invest in their employees in developing relationships with customers and in learning technology. Smaller companies that don't have non-competes for key personnel are difficult to sell. And companies take a real risk that employees will simply learn from the experience of a job and hand a customer list on a platter to the competitor. So in the absence of a non-compete, many companies won't invest or trust their employees. That can slow the growth of companies. Moreover, in some states, companies pay employees to sign a non-compete. In the Midwest, companies don't need to do that. That is wrong. Companies should pay a premium for workers limiting post-job options. But California is hardly the panacea the author claims. I have represented many employees who have been threatened with aggressive approaches to trade secrets violations by their former California employer. In other words, when the former employer can't use a non-compete, they find other paths. Are non-competes over-used?  Undoubtedly.

Ruling extends protections: Will the Supreme Court weigh in?

A decision out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit sets the stage to prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Several other federal courts have recently reached opposing decisions, so the issue may be heading for the Supreme Court.

Chief Judge Diane Wood wrote for the panel in an 8-3 recent decision: "Any discomfort, disapproval, or job decisions based on the fact that the complaintant - man or woman - dresses differently, speak differently, or dates or marries a same-sex partner, is a reaction purely and simply based on sex. That means it falls within Title VII's prohibition against sex discrimination, if it affects employment in one of the specified ways." What does this mean for employees?

Email Us For A Response

Don’t Hesitate. Let Our Firm Help You Protect Your Rights.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

We have developed a particular way we handle consultations at NachtLaw. Based on years of experience advising thousands of clients about their rights, we have settled on a method that allows our attorneys to provide the best advice possible in a setting that ensures confidentiality and promotes an atmosphere of trust.

Ann Arbor, MI
101 North Main Street Suite 555
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Ann Arbor Law Office Map

Traverse City, MI
415 Cass Street Suite 2C
Traverse City, MI 49684

Traverse City Law Office Map

Toledo, OH
One Seagate Suite 685
Toledo, OH 43604

Toledo Law Office Map

Birmingham, MI
401 South Old Woodward Avenue Suite 460
Birmingham, MI 48009

Birmingham Law Office Map