Nemeth Law, P.C. partner, Deborah Brouwer, offers suggestions for holiday parties and best practices to keep everyone safe.

Do your workplace policies need to be reviewed following the passage of Proposal 1? Nemeth Law attorney Sara Moore discusses the implications of the new marijuana law on employers and offers tips for employers who may wish to revise their policies in response to the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Michigan.

Summer is here. Is your workplace prepared to handle the seasonal changes in dress codes? Whether you opt for guidelines or specific rules, Nemeth Law attorney Deborah Brouwer offers tips to help employers navigate often touchy dress code issues in the summer season.

On March 7, 2018, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (covering Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee) held that Title VII prohibits discrimination against an employee because of his/her transgender status. EEOC v. R. G. & G. R. Harris Funeral Homes, Case No. 16-2424.  Just weeks before, on February 26, 2018, the Second Circuit (covering New York, Connecticut and Vermont) held that Title VII also prohibits discrimination by an employer on the basis of sexual orientation.  Zarda v. Altitude Express, 883 F.3d 100 (2d Cir. 2018). Our firm covered the lower court opinions in a prior blog (July 26, 2017).

While most of us are focused on Tax Day as the next major federal filing deadline, large employers and federal contractors should not lose sight of March 31 – the deadline for filing EEO-1 reports. For those who are unfamiliar, the EEO-1 report is a compliance survey mandated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under its regulations implementing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Through this report, the EEOC collects data on the race, ethnicity, and sex of private-sector employees, which is subdivided by job category. The EEOC will use this data to analyze job patterns of women and minorities in private industry in order to guide enforcement efforts. To this end, the information included in an employer’s EEO-1 report may be used in litigation against that employer.

On July 26, 2017, the White House announced transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to serve in the military and provided guidance to the U.S. Department of Defense (“DOD”) consistent with that announcement.  On August 25, 2017, President Trump sent a memo to the DOD with further instructions that the DOD should stop allowing transgender individuals to enlist.  The ACLU along with pro bono law firms have challenged these actions.  On August 28, 2017, lawsuits were filed alleging violations of the United States Constitution by failing to provide the transgender community with equal protection of the laws and by treating them more harshly than other individuals. 

Michigan’s public sector bargaining law, the Public Employment Relations Act (PERA), MCL 423.201 et seq., has long recognized the right of a union to “prescribe its own rules with respect to the . . . retention of membership.” A right-to-work amendment to that law (2012 PA 349) provides that a public employee cannot be forced to “remain a member of a labor organization or bargaining representative or otherwise affiliate with or financially support a labor organization or bargaining representative.” In light of these provisions, can a union limit membership revocation to a one month window period each year? Is this a lawful union rule relating to the retention of union membership? Or, is it an unlawful attempt to force a public employee to remain a member and pay dues?

Earlier this month, a Florida Appeals Court overruled a lower court decision finding that a former Uber driver was eligible for unemployment benefits. The Appeals Court deemed the Uber driver an independent contractor, making him ineligible for unemployment. Meanwhile, back in Michigan, a new law that goes into effect on March 21, 2017 will take the issue out of Michigan Courts, at least for ridesharing companies. Nemeth Law founder Patricia Nemeth explains that the Michigan Limousine, Taxicab and Transportation Network Company Act defines drivers in these gig economy networks as independent contractors, assuming select criteria are met.

It’s Valentine’s season, and that impacts the workplace, too. Nemeth Law management-side labor and employment attorney Anne Widlak looks at the less-than-lovely aspects of office romance. What to do? “No dating” policies are ill advised, hard to enforce and can have negative ramifications on culture.  Implementing a fraternization policy, which sets guidelines for office romance, especially supervisor/employee relationships, is an effective approach.  Be careful the policy doesn’t limit the employees’ ability to discuss non-romantic issues, though…Anne Widlak tells you why.

In what appears to be the first appellate court directly ruling on this issue, a Florida state appeals court ruled last week that Uber drivers are independent contractors and not employees.

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