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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.

Continue reading “Michigan Workers and COVID-19: Updates and Resources”

Blanchard & Walker: Fighting Payroll Fraud for Independent Contractors

Clocking overtime
Company’s Use “Independent Contractor” Agreements to Avoid Paying Overtime to Employees.

Blanchard & Walker lawyers have been fighting for over a decade to secure the rights of cable technicians and other laborers who have been deprived of overtime pay by the use of “independent contractor” labels.  Still, we are amazed by the depth of the problem and astonished to hear how extreme and widespread the abuse of “independent contractor” classifications has become.   Continue reading “Blanchard & Walker: Fighting Payroll Fraud for Independent Contractors”

Proposal Would Limit the Reach of Non-Compete Agreements for Low-Wage Workers

House Commerce Committee Hearing on HB 4874

A bill under consideration in the Michigan Legislature would limit the most abusive forms of overreaching of “non-compete agreements” and end unfair restrictions on low-wage workers.  At a recent committee hearing, B&W Attorney David Blanchard was on hand to testify on behalf of the Michigan Association for Justice – discussing the impact of these restrictions on low wage workers and the drag they have on the Michigan economy. Read MIRS Coverage on HB 4874. Continue reading “Proposal Would Limit the Reach of Non-Compete Agreements for Low-Wage Workers”

Blanchard & Walker PLLC : Workers on a “Day-Rate” Pay System are Still Owed Overtime Pay.

“Day-rate” regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) are very clear: “day-rate” workers” are entitled to additional pay for hours worked over forty in a week. The Department of Labor Regulation, 29 C.F.R. § 778.112, requires that when employees paid on a day-rate work more than forty hours in a week, their hourly rate is calculated by totaling all money received in the workweek and dividing by the total hours actually worked in that week. Such employees are then entitled to an overtime half-time premium for all hours worked over forty that week. Continue reading “Blanchard & Walker PLLC : Workers on a “Day-Rate” Pay System are Still Owed Overtime Pay.”

Blanchard & Walker PLLC: Federal Lawsuit Alleges “Day-Rate” Workers Deprived of Overtime Pay for 70+ Hour Weeks

Display Assembly Workers Deprived of Overtime Pay

“Day-rate” regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are clear: “day-rate workers,” such as retail display assembly workers, are owed an additional half-time pay for hours worked over 40 in a week.

Blanchard & Walker PLLC Payroll Fraud Case Pending: Plaintiff worked doing construction and demolition of merchandizing fixtures for DisplayMax aka FixtureMax, servicing big box stores such as AutoZone and Meijer. Even though she worked more than ten hours a day, six or seven days a week, she was paid only a straight day-rate for each day worked—without the overtime pay required by law. “Day-rate” regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are very clear: “day-rate” workers are entitled to an additional half-time pay for hours worked over forty in a week. Plaintiff in the federal court lawsuit alleges she is owed the FLSA-mandated half-time premium for all overtime hours, and brought the case so that all similarly situated employees of DisplayMax and FixtureMax will have an opportunity to opt-in and recover the overtime pay legally owed to them. Blanchard & Walker lawyers are currently taking calls with impacted workers to investigate the scope of the pay practices at issue.

Bonus reading: The Case for Good Jobs

Blanchard & Walker Law PLLC: Ruling Provides Warning for Mandatory Handbook Restrictions

Administrative ruling sends a warning shot for overreaching and oppressive employment contracts.

Blanchard & Walker clients win in case tried under the National Labor Relations Act. Trial verdict provides a warning for employers seeking to impose workplace communication restrictions.

The Motor City Pawn Brokers ruling confirms that oppressive handbook requirements banning everything from communications with former employees to social media postings violate the National Labor Relations Act, and firing people for Continue reading “Blanchard & Walker Law PLLC: Ruling Provides Warning for Mandatory Handbook Restrictions”

ACLU calls charges against Michigan Senate candidate unconstitutional

MLive reports on the latest court filing in the prosecution of Anuja Rajendra for political speech;  Blanchard & Walker Attorneys David Blanchard and Frances Hollander on the brief.

When the law overreaches into constitutionally protected speech, ACLU cooperating attorneys step forward.  Continue reading “ACLU calls charges against Michigan Senate candidate unconstitutional”