Tech Workers and Programmers – Experienced Michigan Employment Lawyers

Michigan has a thriving technology sector that employs thousands of tech workers and computer programmers. Like all employees, tech workers are entitled to fair compensation and a safe workplace free from harassment and discrimination. Unfortunately, some tech companies sacrifice worker safety to maximize profits. The employment lawyers at Sommers Schwartz hold employers accountable for unlawful employment practices that violate the rights of tech workers.

Types of Employment Violations

Michigan is emerging as one of the country’s leading tech hubs. Microsoft, Google, IBM, and LinkedIn are among the global tech giants that have opened offices in the Detroit area. At the end of 2020, Michigan had 386,901 tech workers working for over 13,000 tech businesses.

Tech workers and programmers significantly contribute to Michigan’s economy, constituting around 8.8 percent of the state’s workforce. The dramatic advancement of the state’s tech industry also means employers have new opportunities to violate the state’s labor laws.

Wage theft, discrimination, and retaliation are some issues tech workers may face in the workplace. Sommers Schwartz represents Michigan IT employees in a wide range of employment-related cases, including:

Wage and Overtime Violations

Complaints of wage and hour violations are among the most common employment disputes.

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state laws, employees are entitled to overtime at time-and-a-half pay unless they fall within specific exemptions. Neither federal nor Michigan law broadly exempts computer systems analysts, computer programmers, software engineers, or other similarly skilled IT workers from its minimum wage or overtime requirements.

Because of the tech field’s demanding nature, many employees work long hours and weekends. Some companies misclassify employees as “exempt” to avoid paying higher overtime wages. Although tech workers are often highly skilled, salaried, and work irregular hours with minimal supervision, they are not automatically exempt. Whether an employer is required to pay overtime depends on an employee’s job duties and job title.

Many companies improperly classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees to avoid paying overtime, workers’ compensation, and other employee benefits. Workers wrongly classified as independent contractors may be able to recover retroactive compensation for the value of their unpaid wages and benefits. Correcting this misclassification also entitles them to many other essential workplace benefits, including the protection of federal and state laws barring discrimination and regulating workplace safety.


Discrimination in various forms affects the tech industry, which struggles with stereotypes and exclusionary behavior. Companies like Google have faced numerous high-profile lawsuits alleging gender and racial discrimination in hiring, promoting, and compensating programmers and other tech workers. Women account for about 26 percent of Michigan’s tech workforce; African Americans comprise 8 percent.

Both state and federal laws protect tech workers from being discriminated against based on age, race, gender, national origin, disability, and other protected statuses. Employers must be held accountable for their discriminatory practices. Discrimination is unlawful in every aspect of employment, including making hiring decisions, offering promotion opportunities, firing workers, or taking adverse employment actions like layoffs or workforce reductions.

Age discrimination is also a problem in this fast-paced industry that tends to attract a younger workforce. IBM has faced lawsuits for age discrimination brought by former employees who claim they were fired because of their age. Age discrimination can also occur more subtly. Some examples include:

  • Promoting a younger, less-qualified employee rather than an older, more experienced worker.
  • Enacting unnecessary hiring criteria that effectively bar older applicants, such as requiring a university or school-based email address to apply.
  • Implementing policies that have the effect (even if not necessarily the intent) of driving away older workers, such as mandatory overnight work or erratic, last-minute scheduling.

If you suspect your employer is engaging in discriminatory practices, a Michigan employment lawyer can help you pursue compensation. The law also protects employees from retaliation for exercising their rights in the workplace or reporting discriminatory practices.

Filing an Employment Claim

Most tech companies have an internal process for workers to report disputes or misconduct. If you have experienced unlawful behavior in the workplace, you should file a complaint with your employer’s Human Resources department. Unfortunately, employers often fail to investigate complaints or take meaningful action to fix the issue. If your complaint remains unresolved after you have exhausted the company’s established channels, you should consider legal action.

An experienced Michigan employment lawyer can help you understand and explore your options. The employment attorneys at Sommers Schwartz, P.C. can advise you of your rights and help you take the next steps to file a claim and obtain compensation. Whether you have been cheated out of wages, subjected to unlawful discrimination, retaliated against, or denied basic employee rights, we are here to help.

Sommers Schwartz will investigate what happened, collect evidence, and build a strong case on your behalf. We will consider all possible ways to resolve your employment dispute; many cases can be resolved with mediation, arbitration, and skilled negotiation. If litigation is necessary, our experienced attorneys will vigorously represent you throughout the process.

Contact an Accomplished Michigan Employment Lawyer

Michigan tech workers and programmers whose workplace rights have been violated can turn to Sommers Schwartz to resolve their employment-related disputes. We have represented employees in all types of employment cases. Our firm has the resources and credibility to challenge and hold even the largest corporations accountable.

The Michigan employment lawyers at Sommers Schwartz know the legal process can be stressful and overwhelming. We work tirelessly to minimize the unpleasantness and resolve your case as quickly and satisfactorily as possible. Our resources and experience help you obtain just compensation, effectuate change in your work environment, and improve the equity of Michigan’s tech community. Call 800-783-0989 or submit our online form to learn more and schedule a free consultation.

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