Legal Practice Areas

Legal Representation and Advice for Disciplinary Review Committees

Blanchard & Walker lawyers regularly provide legal representation or advice for University employees facing disciplinary review proceedings at the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Michigan State University, and other higher education institutions in Michigan. University and other higher education employees are entitled to solid legal advice before facing disciplinary review hearings. Blanchard & Walker attorneys provide legal representation and strategic advice for higher education employees facing disciplinary review hearings and proposed disciplinary actions. Michigan’s university employees have a right to sound legal advice when facing proposed discipline, contemplating early retirement or weighing university employment severance proposals. Before you waive your rights, get sound legal advice about your legal rights and options.

Unemployment Compensation Appeals

Blanchard & Walker attorneys are active advocates for the rights of Michigan’s unemployed workers. We are seeing overwhelming actions accusing UIA claimants of fraud based on computerized "robo-fraud" determinations with no apparent justification. Blanchard & Walker attorneys represent employees in unemployment insurance administration hearings. If you are accused of unemployment fraud, or if you face other challenges to your unemployment benefits, our lawyers want to hear from you. We provide unemployment insurance agency advice on flat fee and other cost effective retainer arrangements to represent claimants in employment matters.

Disciplinary Review Proceedings or Notice of Proposed Discipline

Blanchard & Walker attorneys regular advise federal employees, health care, and higher education employees on employment discipline matters. For many, immediate review is essential and deadlines may be short; from 7 day deadlines to file a grievance to 30 days to file an action with the Merit Systems Protection Board. In state court, the Michigan Whistleblower Protection Act requires any action be filed within 90 days of an adverse employment action. It is essential that state and federal employees facing wrongful employment actions seek legal advice without delay. Blanchard & Walker attorneys regularly represent government employees in grievances, disciplinary actions, and state and federal court litigation. Getting prompt legal advice is essential in any such situation.

Professional Certification and Regulatory Review Proceedings

Blanchard & Walker attorneys provide legal representation for doctors, nurses, and other health care or state licensed professionals facing licensing discipline. This includes assistance in responding to licensing complaints and investigations, representation in administrative hearings, and negotiation of consent agreements where appropriate.

Legal Representation for Overtime Pay and Other Wage Theft

Blanchard & Walker fight for fair pay: getting fair pay for a fair day of work is the basic legal foundation of the employment law. With only limited exceptions, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires every hour and every minute spent working must be paid. Illegal wage theft occurs in many ways: not counting time waiting or preparing for work; not paying for "lunch breaks" even when employees are actually working; misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime laws even though they don’t hold legitimate executive, professional, or administrative positions; or even denying overtime pay by treating regular workers as "independent contractors" while they are employees under the law.

Legal Representation for Whistleblower Retaliation, Compliance, and Fraud Lawsuits

Blanchard & Walker is a law firm protecting Michigan Whistleblowers: When fraud, discrimination, or other illegal conduct appear in the workplace, there comes a time when good people have no choice but to speak up. The law protects employees from retaliation, but only when they follow certain reporting procedures. The Michigan Whistleblower Protection Act is one such law, but with a very short 90 day statute of limitations. The Department of Labor, OSHA Complaint filing procedures protect workers in over 20 different federal statutes, including Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblowers and financial services compliance, Nuclear Regulatory Commission compliance, and rules under the Surface Transportation Act. Complaints often have to be filed with OSHA within 90 days of an adverse action. Some federal employees may face deadlines as short as 30 days. This means whistleblowers sometimes must act quickly in order to protect their rights against retaliation. Blanchard & Walker attorneys advise on whistleblower reporting while protecting against retaliation, and take the company to court when employees face a job loss simply for speaking up against criminal activity and fraud.

Legal Representation for Veteran and Reservist Rights

Blanchard & Walker are lawyers who protect veterans’ rights: federal law under USERRA requires most veterans and reservists have a right to return home with their job waiting open; and with all the benefits they earned while serving their country: raises, promotions, and seniority. Blanchard & Walker attorneys work with veterans seeking workplace accommodations for service related injuries, and they regularly work to secure legal rights to medical leave and extended FMLA benefits for wounded warriors and their caregivers.

Legal Representation for Doctors and Other Health Care Professionals

Blanchard & Walker is a law firm representing doctors and health care professionals: health care executives and medical doctors need legal help understanding and negotiating employment contracts. Blanchard & Walker also represents doctors and health care professional fighting abusive and over-restrictive non-compete agreements. Blanchard & Walker advises health care compliance specialists and billing professionals to ethically address compliance concerns and root out fraud in the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement systems. Blanchard & Walker represents doctors and health care professionals to maximize their career opportunities and potential when faced with severance contracts and other separation terms.

Executive and Professional Compensation

Blanchard & Walker negotiates and secures executive and professional compensation: navigating incentive compensation systems, stock options agreements, restrictive covenants or buy-sell arrangements for privately held companies. Blanchard & Walker aggressively advocates for clients, in contract negotiations and executive recruitment terms and in executive severance, change in control, or business dissolution situations.

Qui Tam, Sarbanes-Oxley, and Consumer Protection

Blanchard & Walker represents "relators" (as the plaintiffs are called) in government fraud/qui tam cases: The federal False Claims Act provides an effective tool for recovering taxpayer dollars and protecting whistleblowers. To date billions of dollars have been recovered and the program offers significant rewards as well as protection from retaliation for whistleblowers willing to risk their livelihoods in order to do the right thing and report government fraud. Strict rules control and the right procedures must be followed for whistleblowers seeking to gain protection under the "Qui Tam" provisions of the False Claims Act. Attorney David Blanchard provides confidential advice and representation to compliance officers and health care executives standing up for the rights of whistleblowers considering reporting government contract fraud, health care fraud and other types of false claims. If you believe you have been caught up in a fraudulent scheme to defraud the government, whether your company is providing unnecessary services or inadequate services, or billing for services that have not been provided at all, you should not wait to seek legal counsel from an experienced whistleblower protection attorney.

Workplace Discrimination and Title VII Lawyers

Blanchard & Walker fight for workers' civil rights, including the rights to work free from discrimination or retaliation. Attorneys David Blanchard and Angela Walker are regularly retained to fight discrimination for employees fighting EEOC discrimination claims. Discrimination tears at the heart of our society and undermines the American workplace. Those reporting or opposing illegal discrimination and pay inequality are protected from retaliation by state and federal law. David Blanchard and Angela Walker represent survivors of discrimination and harassment in violation of rights under Title VII federal law in the workplace and victims of Equal Pay Act violations. When employees face illegal discrimination based on sex, race, or disability, Blanchard & Walker stands ready to provide the legal advice to protect employment, get back on the job, or recover for the damages that come from a wrongful discharge or unfair pay discrimination.

Filing an EEOC Claim

Every American resident has a right to report discrimination and harassment at work, whether through the EEOC or the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. The EEOC job is the front line for enforcing many of the nation’s anti-discrimination laws: Title VII, ADA, ADEA, GINA, and the first defense against retaliation for reporting illegal discrimination. David Blanchard and Angela Walker provide legal representation to EEOC claimants; assisting in the filing of complaints, representation in fact-finding hearings, or mediation. In cases where the EEOC has found cause, Blanchard & Walker advise and represent employees in EEOC conciliation proceedings. When the EEOC is unwilling or unable to take the case, Blanchard & Walker provides the legal advice and representation to take the discrimination or retaliation case to court.

First Amendment/Section1983 Retaliation

Does my government employer have to respect my constitutional rights? Yes. Government employer may legitimately discipline employees for job-related speech and conduct. However, government employees do not need to leave their constitutional rights behind when they come to work. Blanchard & Walker is committed to fighting for the First Amendment rights of employees to speak on matters of public concern. Government employees facing retaliation for exercising their rights to free speech or religious freedom need a lawyer that will stand up for their constitutional rights. Get legal representation when your rights are being threatened or when government employment is terminated for exercising your constitutional rights.

Title IX Education Rights

Federal Title IX law protects more than just sporting opportunities. Title IX is about guaranteeing equal rights to enjoy the benefits of education. Blanchard & Walker are committed Title IX attorneys fighting for the rights of Michigan students seeking equal enjoyment and equal opportunities to education free from harassment and hostile environments. Federal law requires every educational institution receiving taxpayer support, college loans or grants, comply with the same requirements of Title IX: a fair and equal educational environment where women can enjoy the same benefits and opportunities as a male students. When female students are subject to a hostile educational environment or outright sexual harassment or assaults, it violates the promise and requirements of the law. Blanchard & Walker are experienced lawyers ready to stand up to even the biggest educational institutions to fight for equal educational rights.

Non-compete and Trade Secret Lawsuits

Are you being threatened with, or actually defending, a non-compete lawsuit? Is your career path restricted by overreaching non-compete agreements? Abusive use non-competes or "restrictive covenants" is a typical tactic used to limit competition. This abuse interferes with basic rights to work and control the market for your skills. Even worse, it undermines our state's economic recovery by forcing restricting the talent pool and forcing skilled and talented workers to seek jobs elsewhere. Blanchard & Walker are non-compete defense lawyers fighting back against aggressive and abusive enforcement of these restrictive covenants, and counseling employees on the reach and enforceability of the contracts they may have signed. Michigan courts may only enforce non-competes that are reasonable in scope and duration, and only to the extent they protect legitimate business interests. This doesn’t protect the "little guy" from having to defend overreaching lawsuits beyond the scope of reason. If your career path and job opportunities are being undermined by threats of non-compete litigation, get advice and representation early from an experienced non-compete attorney.

Disability Discrimination

Blanchard & Walker represents employees with serious health conditions who are facing discrimination at work. The American with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and other state and federal disability discrimination laws provide employees with the right to be free of discrimination due to actual or perceived disabilities. This includes protection from discrimination in hiring, firing, promotion, demotion, training, pay, and other privileges of employment. Employees with disabilities also have the rights to reasonable accommodations in the workplace, which may include modified work schedules, work-from-home arrangements, changes to workspace, time off work, or job reassignments. Our attorneys aggressively advocate for employees who are discriminated against or denied reasonable accommodations to which they are entitled. Get answers to common questions on our FAQ page »

Employment Rights for Cancer Patients

Angela Walker and David Blanchard provide advice and representation for employees going through cancer and other serious health conditions. Job security is often a concern at the time of a cancer diagnosis. Blanchard & Walker is committed to protecting cancer patients in the workplace by helping them obtain the accommodations they need and enforce their rights to medical leave and other employment benefits. Our attorneys can help educate you about your legal options and how best to keep your career on track while going through cancer treatment. They stand ready to take your case to court if you are fired or discriminated against on account of your cancer diagnosis. Get answers to common questions on our FAQ page »

Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”)

The Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave due which can be taken due the birth or adoption of a child, due to the employee’s own serious health condition, or to care for a seriously ill family member. The FMLA also provides protected time off for families of veterans and members of the armed services. Blanchard & Walker attorneys regularly provide advice and counseling to employees about how to enforce their FMLA rights, including how to communicate with your employer about your health condition and how to preserve FMLA entitlement by considering options such as intermittent leave and reduced schedule leave. They advocate for employees whose rights are denied and pursue claims in federal court when employees are retaliated against for taking FMLA leave. Get answers to common questions on our FAQ page »

General Legal Counsel

Small Businesses, Non-profits and municipal agencies rely on Blanchard & Walker for legal advice and guidance, whether for routine issues, such as employee handbook revision, or even when threats of litigation disrupt orderly business operations. Blanchard & Walker don’t represent big-box corporate interests and our lawyers won’t hold back his advice just to tell companies what they want to hear. What Blanchard & Walker does do is to provide sound strategic advice and litigation defense for owner-operated businesses, non-profits, and municipalities seeking in good faith to comply with the law and to do the right thing.

Representing Human People

Real people need solid legal representation to protect our civil rights. Recently, big corporations and their representatives have made advances in the courts to bend the laws in favor protecting their interests over the interests of their workers; even to the extent of protecting their "civil rights" as corporate "people" to discriminate against their workers. The team of lawyers at Blanchard & Walker are committed to providing high power legal representation for human people who want to stand up for their workplace rights guaranteed under state and federal law.
FROM THE BLOG
  • Blanchard & Walker PLLC : Workers on a “Day-Rate” Pay System are Still Owed Overtime Pay. October 31, 2019

    “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.

    In one recently-filed Blanchard & Walker case, a client worked in construction and demolition of merchandizing fixtures for big box stores, such as AutoZone and Meijer, but she was paid only a straight day rate for each day worked.  She worked more than ten hours a day, six or seven days a week without the overtime pay required under the law. Unfortunately, this type of payroll fraud is very common.

    The U.S. Secretary of Labor filed a similar case in Michigan last year, and the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan easily disposed of the restaurant owner’s defenses and granted Summary Judgment for the DOL for “day-rate” restaurant workers:

    Although the FLSA does not require employers to compensate their employees on an hourly basis, “the overtime compensation due to employees must be computed on the basis of the hourly rate derived therefrom, and therefore, it is necessary to compute the regular hourly rate of such employees during each workweek.” 29 C.F.R. § 778.109. The “regular rate” will necessarily fluctuate when an employee’s hours vary. 29 C.F.R. § 778.108. In this case, Defendants paid their employees a flat day rate, regardless of the hours worked. The Secretary calculated overtime due by performing a mathematical computation to determine the “regular rate.” The Secretary used the total remuneration as the dividend, and the hours worked as the divisor, to determine the “regular rate” as the quotient. Using this calculation, the Secretary determined that Defendants failed to pay overtime at one and a half times the regular rate for any of their employees. Defendants have failed to show that the Secretary’s calculations do not comport with the strictures of the FLSA. Accordingly, Defendants’ pay practices violate the FLSA’s requirement for overtime compensation under 29 U.S.C. § 207(a) and the Secretary is entitled to summary judgment.

    Acosta v. Min & Kim Inc., No. 15-CV-14310, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9507, at *18-19 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 22, 2018)

    Unfortunately, many employers violate this wage law hoping they won’t get caught on this type of payroll fraud…  and even if they do get caught, hoping that it will cost less to settle a lawsuit and pay off one plaintiff rather than changing their system and paying all workers what they are legally owed. 

    At Blanchard & Walker, we fight back for the overtime right of day-rate workers. In one recently-filed FLSA collective action in the Eastern District of Michigan, the lead plaintiff came forward with allegations for herself and other similarly situated employees who also worked weeks, sometimes sixty or seventy hours, but only received a flat “day-rate” for each day worked.  Blanchard & Walker lawyers continue to investigate and talk to day-rate workers across transportation, service, and construction industries.

  • 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 January 31, 2019

    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 (more…)