Read about our client’s struggle in Time Magazine this week. Tamara Brown was denied the right to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic and fired for having child care responsibilities. Despite federal law and leave rights, employers who did not keep up with the law have done wrong to so many Michigan workers: fired when they should receive paid leave; forcing working moms to choose between family safety and a right to keep a job. Nobody should be forced to make that choice.
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.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that retaliation claims for protected reporting and other protected conduct have overtaken discrimination claims altogether. It’s not that hard to imagine that the only thing your employer hates more than discrimination at work is actually talking about discrimination work. Now, the EEOC has finally issued new retaliation guidance explaining the scope of protected reporting under the federal anti-discrimination laws AND the scope of employment actions that will be considered illegal retaliation.
Since at least 2013, the Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance System has had its computers set on data-mining old claims data, sometimes going back up to six years, to find data discrepancies and automatically issue “Robo-Fraud” determinations against unemployment claimants.
Now, just more than a year after we filed the federal court lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s unemployment fraud accusations, the UIA is showing the first signs of a break under mounting pressure from multiple quarters. In April, the federal judge hearing the constitutional challenge issued an Order denying the State’s motion to dismiss and clearing the way for the case to move forward. Meanwhile in Lansing, Reforms to the State System are being contemplated in the Michigan Legislature, where attorney David Blanchard testified last week on the impact of the system for Michigan UIA claimants and on the need to strengthen protections.