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COVID-19 EMPLOYMENT LAW INSIGHTS AND RESOURCES

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present many challenges for the Michigan workplace.  The law and circumstances are changing almost daily.  We are regularly monitoring and updating workplace rights resources we have found helpful.  Additional Blanchard & Walker Resource Pages and Factsheets provide more detailed discussion on specific COVID-19 topics:

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COVID-19 UNEMPLOYMENT AND PANDEMIC ASSISTANCE RESOURCES

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS DURING COVID-19 OUTBREAK

Since April 2020, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency has been accepting applications for the broadest category of potential recipients under federal law reforms related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers defined as “self-employed” or otherwise defined as independent contractors are able to claim unemployment benefits as a result of the federal disaster relief package known as the CARES Act.  And workers who ran out of benefit weeks after January 1, 2020 will be able to re-qualify for additional benefits weeks up to 39 weeks of total benefits.

Apply for Michigan Unemployment Benefits here

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RETURN-TO-WORK: WORKPLACE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS DURING COVID-19

Ten Steps all Workplaces Can take to Prevent COVID-19 Exposure

For those who are working in public during the COVID-19 outbreak, effective workplace safety is a great concern. For everyone’s safety, violations should be reported to local public health departments and appropriate state agencies. Discrimination or retaliation for raising COVID-19 workplace safety concerns is prohibited.

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Pizza Delivery Drivers Shorted on Vehicle Reimbursements Achieve Class Settlement in Largest Michigan Lawsuit of its Kind   

Pizza franchises take a slice out of every driver’s pay.

Final approval of the $650,000 settlement package clears the way for the largest known class action settlement of its kind in Michigan – covering ten Hungry Howie’s franchise locations in Mid-Michigan. The Pizza Driver Lawsuits alleged a common complaint among drivers in the industry – that systematic under-reimbursement for mileage and vehicle expenses violates the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Michigan Minimum Wage laws.  Even while consenting to the settlement, the pizza stores continue to deny liability and deny that they underpay drivers for their vehicle expenses.

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STANDING UP FOR COVID-19 WORKPLACE SAFETY WHISTLEBLOWERS

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Azanean Petty was forced to choose between her safety and her job at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility when her employer denied her request to wear a protective mask while working in an environment with insufficient sanitation measures and inadequate social distancing. Ms. Petty was forced to hand in her resignation after she spoke up about safety concerns and refused to work without a mask for the protection of herself, the juvenile detainees, and the other employees in the facility.

Her attorney Angela Walker filed the Whistleblower Lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court.  “Although the facility had apparently received N-95 masks for their employees, they told my client she was not allowed to wear it inside where the inmates are housed Continue reading “STANDING UP FOR COVID-19 WORKPLACE SAFETY WHISTLEBLOWERS”

COVID -19 EMPLOYMENT LAW INSIGHTS AND RESOURCES

The COVID-19 Outbreak is presenting many challenges for the Michigan workplace.  Yet the law and circumstances are changing almost daily.  We are regularly monitoring and updating workplace rights resources we have found helpful.  We are updating this material as it becomes available.  Keep in mind this is not intended to be legal advice.  Legal rights in any individual case need to be evaluated in consultation with an attorney.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS AND COVID-19

As of April 13, 2020, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency has begun accepting applications for the broadest category of potential recipients under federal law reforms related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading “COVID -19 EMPLOYMENT LAW INSIGHTS AND RESOURCES”

COVID-19 and Employment Law Practices – Q&A with Angela Walker

Attorney Angela Walker on COVID-19, advising employees, and the practice of law. This article was originally prepared for the Institute for Continuing Legal Education March 27, 2020.  The original post can be found here.

Angela Walker is a founding partner at Blanchard & Walker PLLC. Angela handles severance negotiations and career strategies for her clients. She has extensive experience with equal pay, sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and disability rights cases. Here, Angela shares some of her thoughts on practicing during this time, as well as her analysis of some of the biggest issues facing employees. Continue reading “COVID-19 and Employment Law Practices – Q&A with Angela Walker”

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

MDHHS: What should you do if you think you have been exposed?

Responding to the Coronavirus Outbreak as legal professionals means constant monitoring so that we can provide clients and callers with the most up-to-date information and advice possible.   The  Families First Coronavirus Response Act has temporarily expanded paid leave rights in two important ways: creating a paid sick leave benefit for certain workers affected by the outbreak and a 12 week paid caregiver leave for parents caring for minor children during school closures.  How does it work? Continue reading “Families First Coronavirus Response Act”

THE COURTS AND COVID-19

Michigan Courts and COVID-19

The Michigan Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-6 encouraging the use of technology, use of video conferencing to keep state courts functioning throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.  The Order supersedes certain local administrative orders attempting to respond to the Coronavirus outbreak on a courthouse-by-courthouse basis.

Administrative Order 2020-9 temporarily amends Court Rules to require service of process by electronic means to the fullest extent possible, and explicitly allows subpoenas to require attendance by telephone or remote conferencing systems.  AO 2020-2, AO 2020-6, and AO 2020-9 were extended on April 27, 2020 by Administrative Order 2020-12.

On May 26, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-14 prescribes guidelines for a phased return to full capacity. These include continued use of remote hearings, limited access to courtrooms, and the imposition of social distancing practices and capacity constraints in courtrooms. 

On June 26, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued Administrative Order 2020-19. AO 2020-19 rescinds Administrative Order 2020-2 and refers back to Administrative Order 2020-14, which mandated a phased approach to return to full operations. AO 2020-19 also extends Administrative Order 2020-9.

The Michigan Supreme Court also released COVID-19 Return to Full Capacity Guidelines for Michigan’s Judiciary along with AO 2020-14. The Guidelines lay out four phases for courts to proceed through in their return to full operations. 

The running catalog of Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Orders in the Covid-19 outbreak is available here.

Michigan Court Deadlines Resume

Under Administrative Order 2020-16 beginning Monday, June 8, 2020 the periods for all filings, jurisdictional and non-jurisdictional, in the Courts shall resume. For time periods that started before AO No. 2020-4 took effect, the filers shall have the same number of days to submit their filings on June 8, 2020, as they had when the tolling went into effect.

Eviction Proceedings and COVID-19

On September 1, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order halting residential evictions to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The order will be in effect through the end of 2020. The Michigan Supreme Court issued questions and answers on the CDC moratorium to provide guidance to Michigan courts.  An Amendment of Administrative Order No. 2020-17  lays out new process for “Priority Treatment and New Procedure for Landlord/Tenant Cases”.  SCAO Form: Verification Regarding CDC Eviction Moratorium (DC 511)

Financial and other assistance may be available for residents unable to pay rent because COVID-19 related financial instability. The Michigan State Housing and Development Authority (MSHDA) Eviction Diversion Program (EDP) is designed to keep Michigan residents who fell behind on their rent during COVID-19 in their homes. The program utilizes a special court process to get fast rental assistance for renters who have been impacted.  Eligibility criteria and application forms are available on MSHDA’s website.

Federal Courts and COVID-19

Other COVID-19 Related Court Resources

Michigan Workers and COVID-19: Updates and Resources

COVID-19 and Unemployment Benefits

Michigan Unemployment Benefits Expanded in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak

Confronting the COVID-19 outbreak has raised many questions among Michigan Workers, many are struggling with unique job interruption issues: lay-offs, work-stoppages, individual medical leave, or caregiver leave. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Order late Monday expanding or confirming unemployment eligibility for Michigan workers impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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