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Nacht Law in the News Archives

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. 

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."

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.

CEO of Michigan Municipal League accused of harassment by current, former staffers

NachtLaw represents several current and former employees of the Michigan Municipal League involved in this story. It is a reminder that sexual comments, emails and behavior, even without sexual touching and requests for sexual favors, may nonetheless support a claim of illegal sexual harassment and discrimination - as well as potential retaliation if one suffers adverse employment consequences for reporting such behavior.

Why fighting for gender equality matters

NachtLaw, P.C. does not subscribe to slogans or falsehoods. We discover facts and that is what we prove to judges and juries. "Science" Is the most prestigious scientific journal that cuts across fields. To get published there, a study must have the best methodology-- the greatest level of rigor and merit. The Detroit Free Press reports on a study in Science that will break your heart, "Little girls doubt that women can be brilliant".    

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