Detroit Employment Lawyers
Whether you have dedicated yourself to a particular company or organization for years or are interviewing for an entry-level position, you have a right to a safe, healthy work environment and equal opportunities and treatment. When you receive unfair treatment, are denied an opportunity, or are terminated based on race, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or another protected category, you may be a victim of unlawful employment discrimination.
Workplace discrimination and other employment violations can occur at all stages of the employment process, from hiring to termination. Proving that your employer — or potential employer — acted in a discriminatory or unethical manner can be challenging. With the help of an experienced Detroit employment attorney, however, you may be able to obtain substantial compensation for any damages suffered.
If you have been discriminated against at work or during the interview process, it is in your best interest to seek legal counsel from an attorney with extensive experience in employment discrimination cases. Contact the Michigan employment law team at Sommers Schwartz, P.C., today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.
Examples of Common Employment Violations
When a CEO, director, board member, supervisor, or manager abuses their position of power by discriminating against or harassing an employee or job applicant, they have violated employee rights, which may rise to the level of unlawful discrimination at the state and federal levels. In addition to discrimination based on race, age, pregnancy, color, genetic information, religion, sex, and national origin, other employment violations include:
- Breaches of contract.
- Retaliation for reporting discrimination or whistleblowing.
- Unpaid overtime wages.
- Sexual harassment.
- Violations of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Family Medical Leave Act
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, covered employees may take time off work for up to 12 weeks during a 12-month period. As long as they return to work within the allowed time frame, employees’ positions should be held. When an employee’s paid time off doesn’t cover the duration of their time away from work, they can take unpaid leave.
Retaliation & Whistleblower Claims
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees or job applicants for reporting discrimination or blowing the whistle on unethical or discriminatory practices. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 499 retaliation charges in Michigan in 2020 alone.
When employees or job applicants are treated unfairly based on race, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or another protected trait, they may be entitled to compensation for any damages suffered. Common damages in employment discrimination cases include:
- Lost income.
- Emotional pain and suffering.
- Hiring expenses.
- Legal fees.
- Punitive damages.
The Payment of Wages and Fringe Benefits Act was established in 1978 to ensure workers receive fair compensation and benefits. In addition to regulating hourly wages, commissions, and salaries, the Act regulates fringe benefits, such as sick pay and vacation pay. If you have a wage dispute with your employer or former employer, you must file the complaint within 12 months of the incident.
According to the Michigan Equal Opportunity Policy Guidance, all Michigan Worker Agencies (MWAs) must provide employees with safe work environments, free of harassment and discrimination. This includes sexual harassment. To ensure a safe work environment, employers must provide training on recognizing and reporting sexual harassment and other toxic workplace behaviors.
If you are a victim of sexual harassment, you have 180 days from the date of the incident to file a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). Under federal law, you have one year to bring a sexual harassment lawsuit against your employer and up to three years under Michigan law. An experienced Detroit sexual harassment attorney can help you determine the best way to proceed.
Breach of Contract
When two or more parties enter into a contract and those terms are violated, the person or company in violation may be in breach of contract. Common employment contracts include employment agreements, employee benefit agreements, sales commission agreements, severance agreements, and non-competition agreements.
State and Federal Protections Against Employment Discrimination
According to the EEOC, there were 67,448 workplace discrimination claims nationwide in 2020, and 1,551 in Michigan. Fortunately, there are multiple state and federal protections against discrimination in the workplace.
If you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace, you have the option of filing a complaint at the state level with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) or the federal level with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Generally, it is best to choose one, not both.
Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Act is often referenced in MI employment discrimination cases because it makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against job applicants and employees based on race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, and marital status. Furthermore, workers cannot be hired or terminated for any of the reasons above or because of their height, weight, or pregnancy status.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law prohibiting workplace discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. Title VII discrimination claims are investigated and enforced by the EEOC.
Whether you proceed at the state or federal level, it is in your best interest to seek legal counsel from an employment law attorney with extensive experience in workplace discrimination cases. The Michigan employment discrimination team at Sommers Schwartz, P.C., will ensure you fully understand your rights and options before moving forward.
Individuals can file discrimination claims at the following State of Michigan offices:
Grand Rapids Office
State Office Building, 4th Floor
350 Ottawa, N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 356-0380
Fax: (616) 356-0399
Capitol Tower Building
110 W. Michigan Ave.
Lansing, MI 48933
Phone: (517) 241-3165
Fax: (517) 241-0546
How a Detroit Employment Attorney Can Help
Cases involving employment discrimination can be particularly complex and confusing. For starters, discrimination cases are often highly emotional. Along with being targeted based on your unique characteristics, your job (and income) may be on the line. So many people tolerate discriminatory behavior in the workplace because they simply need the job. And while employer retaliation does occur, you can rest assured that the knowledgeable, compassionate attorneys at Sommers Schwartz, P.C., will protect your best interests and remain by your side every step of the way.
We will review your unique situation, gather evidence to substantiate your claim, and position you for the most favorable outcome possible. Our tenacious discrimination team will fight for maximum compensation. If you have suffered discrimination based on race, age, pregnancy, national origin, disability, religion, or color, you don’t have to suffer in silence.
Contact a Michigan Workplace Discrimination Attorney Today
At Sommers Schwartz, P.C., our employment law team has been protecting workers’ rights in Detroit and throughout Michigan for over 40 years. Protecting our Detroit community is our number one priority. If you have been a victim of workplace discrimination, we can help. Contact Sommers Schwartz, P.C., today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.