In the state of Michigan, employees are protected by laws prohibiting discrimination, sexual harassment, failure to pay minimum wage or overtime, retaliation against whistleblowers and denying leave for family or medical reasons.
If any of your rights as an employee were infringed or denied, our Clare employment lawyers may be able to help you hold your employer accountable and pursue compensation that may be available. Our firm has been advocating for Michigan residents for more than three decades and we have recovered millions in compensation on their behalf.
An initial consultation with one our licensed attorneys is free of charge. This is an opportunity to learn more about how we may be able to help you, along with learning about the benefits of hiring an experienced attorney.
No Upfront Fees. Ph: (800) 762-8623.
Do I Have a Case Against My Employer?
We need to know what happened to determine if your rights were violated and decide if you may have a valid claim. There are many violations that may cause workers to file claims against their employers:
- Failure to pay minimum wage
- Failure to pay overtime wages (one-and-a-half times the regular pay rate) for hours worked
- Failure to provide any compensation for overtime hours
- Racial discrimination, either in the hiring process or during your employment
- Sexual harassment
- Discrimination based on age, religion, sex, disability or genetic information
- Firing an employee because he or she declines to engage in unethical or illegal activities
- Retaliating against a whistleblower who reports illegal conduct
- Exposing an employee to unethical behavior
- Denying someone leave they are eligible for under federal law
- Terminating your employment wrongfully
- Breaching your employment contract
Have Some Questions? Call (800) 762-8623.
Are Any Employees in Michigan Exempt from Employment Laws?
Under Michigan employment law, employers are not required to pay overtime or minimum wages to employees in bona fide executive, administrative or professional capacities.
Executive employees are exempt from overtime requirements if they:
- Are paid at least $684 per week
- Have primary duties of managing the enterprise or managing a department or subdivision of the enterprise
- Regularly direct two or more full-time employees in their work
- Have the authority to hire or fire people or at the least make recommendations on hiring, firing, promotions or advancement and those recommendations are given particular weight
An administrative employee is exempt if he or she meets the pay threshold for an executive exemption and:
- His or her primary duty is do office or non-manual work directly linked to managing business operations or customers of the employer
- One of the primary duties is using discretion and independent judgment on significant matters
In addition to meeting the pay threshold of an administrative or executive exemption, the following criteria must be met:
- Primary duty is doing work that requires advanced knowledge – work that is mostly intellectual that requires consistent discretion and judgment
- Advanced knowledge the employee possesses is in a science or learning field
- Advanced knowledge was acquired in a prolonged course of specialized instruction
Employers are required to apply the federal or state law that is most beneficial to the employee when it comes to overtime exemptions and other wage issues.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also has a long list of exemptions for people who do a variety of jobs, such as:
- Taxi drivers
- Employees in fishing operations
- Employees in recreational establishments
- Air carrier employees
- Police officers
- People who work at motion picture theaters
Forms of Workplace Discrimination
There are several laws prohibiting various kinds of discrimination in the workplace, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of:
- National origin
There are many examples of discrimination that violate the civil rights act, including any of the following actions if they are done because of the characteristics listed above:
- Firing or terminating employment
- Not hiring
- Not promoting
- Modifying compensation
- Changing the terms or conditions of employment
- Not providing a reasonable accommodation for someone’s disability or religious beliefs
- Discriminatory language in advertisements for a job
- Denying benefits to an employee
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act also prohibits sexual harassment, which is a form of discrimination based on sex. Generally, sexual harassment claims fall under one of two categories:
- Quid pro quo – This refers to employment decisions being based on submitting to sexual harassment or providing sexual favors. The employment decision could be hiring, promoting or retaining an employee. Harassment includes any verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in nature. In these types of claims, your attorney must prove submitting to the conduct is a term of employment (explicitly or implicitly) and your response to the conduct is the basis of a decision about your continued employment.
- Hostile work environment – A hostile work environment is one that is intimidating, hostile or offensive. A work environment can also be considered hostile when it unreasonably interferes with your work performance.
Sexual comments, unwelcome physical advances, exposure of genitals, jokes, sexual innuendo, displays of pornographic materials, being told sexual conduct is part of the job, sexual assault, and offensive or degrading comments could all be forms of sexual harassment.
However, you generally need to show more than one incident of harassment for your claim to have a chance of success. That is why it is important for employees to document their experiences to help build a strong case.
There are separate laws prohibiting discrimination based on your age or disability. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 says men and women cannot be paid differently for doing the same work that requires equal skill, effort and responsibility. There are exceptions for seniority, merit or payment based on quantity or quality of production.
Our Clare employment lawyers are ready to meet with you to discuss your situation. The consultation is free and there is no obligation, so there is no risk in calling us. (800) 762-8623
Causes for Wage and Hour Disputes
These disputes involve failure to pay minimum wage or overtime to eligible workers. Employers often misclassify workers as exempt from overtime or minimum wage. These employees then work overtime and are not paid at the required overtime rate of one and a half times their regular pay rate.
For example, this might happen to servers at restaurants who do work before or after their shifts end, such as cleaning or housekeeping type tasks, possibly making them eligible for minimum wage - even though workers who get a minimum of $30 in tips each month are only required to be paid a wage of $2.13 per hour.
Some employees are misclassified as independent contractors so employers can avoid paying minimum wage or overtime. However, if your employer says you are an independent contractor and is setting your schedule, directing your work, and providing supplies and equipment to help you complete your work, you may have been misclassified.
Simply having the word “manager” in your title does not mean you are exempt from overtime. Your job must fit one of the exemptions under the law.
As of January 1, 2020, the minimum wage in Michigan is $9.65. That means non-exempt employees must be paid a minimum of $9.65 per hour, even though the federal minimum wage is less: $7.25 per hour.
Overtime must be paid to employees who work more than 40 hours in a week, in accordance with Michigan Compiled Laws Section 408.414a. Employers are prohibited from averaging the number of hours worked over two weeks to attempt to deny overtime. If you worked overtime hours one week and none the next, you would still be owed overtime for that first week.
It is important to discuss your situation with an experienced Clare employment attorney, as these laws can be confusing, and you probably cannot rely on your employer to give you the correct information.
Schedule a free consultation. Phone: (800) 762-8623
Laws That May Apply to Your Case
There are many laws governing employees in the workplace, such as:
- Fair Labor Standards Act – As discussed above, this regulates minimum wages and overtime pay across the nation.
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – The law allows employees who are eligible to receive 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family or medical reasons: birth of a child, providing care for spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition, or to deal with a serious health condition making you unable to do your job.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – This law prohibits various forms of discrimination in employment.
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) – Essentially, this law gives service members the right to be reemployed in their civilian job if they leave to perform uniformed service.
- Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) – You are given the right to pay to continue group health benefits for a limited period of time, due to involuntary job loss, reduction in hours, transition between jobs and other life events.
- Equal Pay Act of 1963 – This law says men and women cannot be paid differently for the same work, with certain exceptions.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – This law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation for disabilities.
Our employer lawyers in Clare have extensive knowledge of these laws and how they may apply to your situation. This includes knowledge of how to pursue a claim against an employer that violated your rights.
What to do if Your Rights Were Violated?
It is important to notify your employer about discrimination or harassment. Follow the policy laid out in the employee handbook. It is possible you may be able to resolve the situation this way, but at the very least it will provide documentation of your complaints, which may be valuable evidence if we file a claim on your behalf.
You should also take notes on your experiences, as you may forget details later. Note instances of harassment or discrimination, including the date and time and how you addressed it.
If reporting the problem does not resolve it, you should consider contacting our Clare employment lawyers to discuss filing a claim.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handle discrimination complaints. However, you have just 180 days from the date of the harassment or discrimination to file a complaint on the federal or state level, so contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
If you have been denied minimum wage or overtime pay, you can file an FLSA complaint. You have two years from the date of the violation to file a complaint. However, you get an extra year to file a claim for repeated or willful violations of the law.
You will need several pieces of information to file your complaint, such as the type of work you did, how you were paid and when you were paid.
Our attorneys can manage the complaint process, including helping to gather information to make a strong argument in your favor.
Limitations on Damages in Employment Law Claims
In an unpaid wage claim filed under the FLSA, you may be eligible for liquidated damages and attorneys’ fees and court costs, in addition to payment of the wages you did not receive. Liquidated damages are often equal to the amount of unpaid wages. Attorneys’ fees are the costs your attorney incurred for investigating and pursuing your claim on your behalf.
In a discrimination complaint with the EEOC, much of the compensation you can pursue may not be monetary. For example, you may pursue reinstatement to your previous position or a promotion you were denied due to harassment. In some claims, the employer may be required to make changes to how it handles sexual harassment.
However, you may also be able to pursue financial compensation, such as:
- Earnings you lost because of discrimination
- Attorney fees
- Bonuses, commissions, vacation days, retirement benefits, or increases in pay you did not receive
- Cost to find a new job
- Future lost wages if you are unable to be reinstated to your old position
There are specific limits on compensatory and punitive damages in these claims, according to federal law:
- $50,000 in claims against employers with 15-100 employees
- $100,000 for claims against employers with 101-200 employees
- $200,000 for claims against employers with 201-500 employees
- $300,000 for claims against employers who employ more than 500 employees
Liquidated damages may be available in claims over age or sex discrimination, which are meant to punish malicious or reckless acts of discrimination.
Call a Clare Employment Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Victims of workplace harassment, discrimination or wage violations may not know where to turn for help. They know their rights have been violated but may be unsure of how to fight back.
Calling a licensed attorney can be an important step to take at this time. The attorneys at Jay Trucks and Associates know your rights as an employee and how to take action to attempt to hold employers accountable for engaging in or allowing violations of your rights to take place.
You can contact us anytime to schedule a free initial consultation to learn how we may be able to assist you.
Our office is located at 600 Pine Street in Clare, just down the street from Clare City Hall.
Jay Trucks and Associates: (800) 762-8623.