Employee Rights: What Can Be Done to Protect an Employee In Michigan

woman in conference room surrounded by coworkersIn nearly every industry, there are certain protections that keep the rights of employees at the forefront of the way businesses operate. Employees have specific rights under Michigan law that employers must adhere to regarding hours, wages, and more.

Unfortunately, far too often, employees are taken advantage of by employers and they feel as though there’s nothing they can do about it. After all, most of them need their jobs to make a living and they fear that coming forward can result in them losing their jobs.

At Fieger Law, it is our commitment to protect the rights of employees as they go through some of the most difficult times. Trust that we work to safeguard the protections afforded to you when your employer acts in a manner that tampers with the employer-employee relationships.

Problems Arising from Unpaid Wages

In 1978, the state of Michigan created Act 390, which dictates how employers must pay employees. Along with the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, you would think employees can feel safe in the workplace.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and employers sometimes act in a manner that undermines the law. This includes some of the following issues involving labor and wages:

  • Refusing to pay employees overtime wages that were rightfully earned
  • Refusing to pay employees fringe benefits that were rightfully earned
  • Refusing to allow for proper meal and rest periods
  • Refusing to properly deduct from wages
  • Refusing to classify employees in the correct manner

Employers can impact how much an employee receives based on the amount of work they have done; however, if the employee receives less than they earned based on hourly or salary wage and overtime hours worked, the employer may be the subject of legal action.

What Are Employee Classifications?

Employees are classified based on the work they do, their capacity with the company, and whether or not they’re allowed to work overtime. Each classification can impact how an employee receives payment and how much they can earn.

Some of the classifications can include exempt or non-exempt, as well as identifying if someone is a contractor. In some situations, employers may classify an employee incorrectly, impacting the way they are paid and the benefits they may receive.

Employees who are incorrectly classified and lose wages, benefits, or both as a result can take legal action against the employer to seek the losses they have endured at the hands of the employer’s unscrupulous actions.

Discrimination In the Workplace

Every employee should feel safe and comfortable in their workplace. The last thing they need is for their job to be made more difficult because of discrimination, which can occur in several different ways, including but not limited to the following:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Sexuality
  • Ethnicity
  • Disability

Discrimination makes it so individuals of certain characteristics may have a more difficult time advancing in the company. You may be paid less than someone of lesser experience simply because of your skin color or your age.

Discrimination is not to be taken lightly as it often means someone is overlooked for a position, fired, or otherwise challenged for something other than their skill level. If you are facing discrimination in the work place, you have the right to file a lawsuit against your employer.

In some situations, discrimination can impact the hiring process. For example, if you are more experienced and qualified for a job than another candidate, but the job chooses the other candidate because of race, gender, or other characteristic, this can be considered discrimination.

Sexual Harassment Should Never Be Acceptable

Unfortunately, the workplace is not always as safe as it should be, especially when sexual harassment is involved. Sexual harassment doesn’t have to be a physical action either, as it could occur in a number of different situations, including anything that makes you feel uncomfortable such as:

  • Lewd jokes about gender or of a sexual nature
  • Comments about your physical appearance
  • Physical advances to make contact with you in an uncomfortable manner
  • Offers for advancement in exchange for sexual favors

If a comment or physical contact makes you feel uncomfortable, you can take action against the employer or co-worker responsible. Even if it was a co-worker who sexually harassed you and the employer did nothing to rectify the situation after you reported it, both parties may be liable.

Sexual harassment should not be tolerated by any means and employers may try to prevent you from reporting it by threatening your job. They cannot do this and you have the right to not only report it, but protect your income in the process.

Can I Be Fired for Reporting My Employer?

Imagine this scenario: You’ve been the victim of harassment, discrimination, or unpaid wages. You report the incident and you take legal action to right the wrongs you’ve experienced. Everything should be fine, right?

Unfortunately, some employers take reports of discrimination or harassment and try to justify firing the employee who reported it. They may not directly associate the termination with the actual reporting, but they may claim another unwarranted reason as to why you were fired.

This is just one situation that can be considered wrongful termination—along with being fired for race, gender, age, disability, or another characteristic. Your employer must have a valid reason for firing you, and the fact that you stood up for your rights is not considered a valid reason.

Should you be wrongfully terminated from your job for reporting a problem, you can take further legal action against the employer for your losses.

Protect Your Rights with a Michigan Employment Law Attorney

When an employee is wrongfully faced with a difficult situation involving their employer, it’s imperative for them to recognize what rights they have under the laws of the state and the country. Unfortunately, many employees don’t, and employers often take advantage of this.

For all employees who may encounter an employment law issue, having skilled legal representation is imperative to protecting your rights and preventing an employer from creating a hostile work environment for you.

At Fieger Law, we dedicate ourselves to helping employees protect themselves in some of the most difficult matters involving employment law. We know the ways employers try to take advantage of employees and when this happens, we are relentless in holding them accountable.

Whether you are facing discrimination, harassment, wrongful determination, unpaid wages, or incorrect classification, taking legal action can help right the wrongs you have encountered. In many cases, if you have suffered financial or emotional damage as a result of your employer’s actions, you may be able to recover monetary compensation.

Our Michigan employment law attorneys are here to help you when you need it most. We work hard on your behalf to protect your job, create a safe work environment for you, and put your needs and best interests first. Don’t let your employer get away with actions that harm you, your work status, or anything else that affects your well-being.

Call our firm today at (800) 294-6637 if you have faced any of the above actions in the workplace. We’ll stand by your side, work to hold the responsible party accountable, and pursue any and all damages rightfully owed to you.


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