How many weeks of unemployment am I entitled to?

The State of Michigan pays the lowest number of weeks of unemployment – 20.

This change was implemented by Governor Snyder during ‘reforms’ to the Unemployment system. Under this system the average unemployed worker receives around $6,800.

My boss swears at me and calls me names, can I sue him?

If your boss is a jerk to you, swearing at you or treating you poorly, you have to consider whether he is doing it just to you or everyone. If your boss treats everyone poorly, you may not have a claim as he is not discriminating in violation of the law, but just a poor manager. If your boss is treating you differently from the others in the workplace because of age, sex, gender, disability, height, weight, gender, pregnancy, race, national origin, color, religion, or retaliation for reporting another violation, you should call BS&G right away as his actions may be in violation of the law. However, if he is just a jerk because he doesn’t like you it may not be illegal. According to the Michigan Court of Appeals “[b]eing, in the words of the vernacular, a colossal jerk is not actually unlawful per se, and being arguably unfit for a particular supervisory job does not necessarily constitute an actionable offense.”

I have a felony on my record, does that stop me from getting a job?

No, not necessarily. But there are many employers which require you to state whether you have ever been convicted of a felony. If you have, and depending on the type of job you are applying for, they may legally deny you work. There is much more information here, depending on your situation.

Visit the Michigan Reentry Law Wiki to learn more

I believe I have been discriminated against, how do I file a charge with the EEOC?

If you have not contacted the EEOC or MDCR, and believe that your rights have been violated in regard to age, sex, gender, disability, height, weight, gender, pregnancy, race, national origin, color, religion, retaliation or hostile environment, you have only 300 days from the date of the discriminatory event to make a complaint to the EEOC or 180 days to make a complaint to the MDCR. This means if you were denied a promotion, retaliated against, or terminated, for example, you must file a complaint within the time limit. You must make a complaint with one of these departments to protect your rights and to ensure that you can file a case in federal court, if you do not file a complaint timely, you will be precluded from filing a case in federal court.

To contact the EEOC call: (800) 669-4000

Or to file a charge go here:

File a complaint with the EEOC

My employer wants to have a meeting with me, am I allowed to tape the conversation without telling my boss?

Yes, in Michigan it is legal to tape conversations as long as you are part of the conversation. However, taping conversations may be in violation of the company’s policies so make sure that you check your company handbook first. If you tape a conversation in violation of the company’s policies you may be putting yourself in jeopardy of being terminated for that reason alone.

I have just been terminated, what should I do?

Learn the steps you should take to legally protect your rights when your employer has just let you go. Ask your employer to provide a reason for the termination in writing. If they refuse to do so, ask them to at least verbally state it to you. As soon as you leave the building, write down exactly what they said to you, date the document and keep it in a safe place. Make sure you take all of your personal belongings with you and document if something appears missing. Be professional as you leave and don’t make any harsh statements which you will regret later. If you believe the person terminating you does not have or refuses to listen to important information in making the decision to terminate you, ask to have an exit interview with human resources or to have a separate meeting with a decision maker. Even if you are not re-employed, this will ensure that your employer cannot ignore actions taking place in the workplace. If you are asked to sign anything, refuse to do so and instead request a copy of all documents from your employer so you can take them home and have them reviewed during a consultation with Burgess Sharp & Golden. Finally, request a copy of your personnel file as soon as possible if you have not already. Then call Burgess Sharp & Golden to discuss your options.

How do I apply for unemployment?

The State of Michigan offers extensive online resources to assist people dealing with unemployment. Use the link below to apply for unemployment in Michigan, or find out more about unemployment. It can also be helpful to create an online account to track your unemployment status.

File for unemployment in Michigan

I’m being harassed by a co-worker, should I quit my job?

Before quitting your job in the face of harassment, consider your legal rights and ability to enforce them. Being harassed or bullied by a co-worker is unfortunately all too common in the workplace. Adults can be just as abusive to each other as children. CITE. When this happens, we are often tempted to just quit the workplace.

If you are being harassed regarding your protected class – sex, gender, race, religion, national origin, disability, weight, or age – you should review your company’s harassment policy and report the harassment via the procedure outlined in the policy as soon as possible. A company does not have a responsibility to correct behavior in the workplace in which it is unaware of. Even if you think that your boss is aware of what is going on, don’t risk it, report it! If you quit your position without reporting the harassing behavior, most likely you will not have a cause of action to pursue against your former employer for the harassment you endured.

If your employer is aware of the harassing behavior against you and it continues, you may be able to demonstrate constructive discharge if you quit your position because you are unable to endure the actions against you. If you are constructively discharged, you may be able to pursue a cause of action against your former employer for the harassing behavior and the loss of your job. Constructive discharge is demonstrated when you can show that another reasonable person, in the same position, would also quit their job. In a cause of action, it is usually a question for the jury to answer.

If you have any questions about behavior occurring in your workplace or want advice regarding whether you should quit your job, call the attorneys at Burgess Sharp & Golden.

I didn’t receive my last paycheck, how do I make my employer pay me?

An employee is entitled to be paid all wages due to them, at the time of their termination. Sometimes it is not possible for an employer to determine all wages due on your last date of employment if it is unexpected, otherwise they should be prepared to give you your final check on your last date of employment. If they refuse to pay you, file a complaint with the State of Michigan here:
Submit an Employment Wage Complaint Online

It is free to file a complaint and in most cases the State will act quickly to get you the wages due. You can use this link if you are owed any amount from an employer, as long as you make the claim within a year of when the wages became due.

I want to receive a copy of my personnel file, how do I go about requesting it?

Under the Bullard Plawecki Employee Right to Know Act, MCL 423.501, et seq. employees are entitled to review their personnel records, make copies of those records, and file written statements clarifying or protesting any documents contained in their file. An employer’s use and disclosure of employee records are regulated by this Act as well.To obtain a copy of your file, request it from your Human Resources Department if you are still employed. Or, if you are no longer employed, write a letter to your former employer requesting a copy of your personnel file pursuant to the “Bullard Plawecki Right to Know Act”. Include with the letter your name and address so that your former employer can mail your personnel file to you. State that you waive your right to view the file and would like to proceed with obtaining a copy of the entire records.

Your former employer may charge you a fee per page to copy and supply you with your personnel file.

What should I do if I think I’m about to be terminated?

If you were terminated, or believe that you are about to be terminated, here’s a termination checklist to guide you on steps to take.
  1. If you are presented with documents at the time of your termination, do not sign anything.
  2. Ask to take any documents home and for time to have them reviewed by a lawyer.
  3. Request a complete copy of your personnel file, including your employment application, employment contract, non-compete agreement, and confidentiality agreement, if these are applicable, pursuant to the Bullard-Plawecki Right to Know Act.
  4. Request your unpaid vacation and sick pay.
  5. If they refuse to pay your vacation and sick pay, ask for a copy of the company policy regarding vacation and sick pay.
  6. Ask for a letter stating the reason for your termination.
  7. Ask for a letter of recommendation (unless you are being fired for cause).
  8. Ask for a copy of the company’s “Plan Summary” – it explains all your benefits.
  9. If you are being terminated for cause, ask if you have a right to appeal and if so, ask for a copy of the appeal procedure.
  10. If you are a union member, contact your representative and file a grievance if you are being terminated for cause.
  11. Do not make derogatory statements about the company, your supervisors or your coworkers.
  12. Do not threaten to sue.
  13. If threatened with termination, do not voluntarily quit – it could prevent you from collecting unemployment.
  14. Do not remove company records or documents unless you were authorized to possess and copy such documents in the scope of your duties.
  15. Return all company property at the time of your termination and get documentation acknowledging that it was returned.
  16. Request that you be allowed to take all your personal items with you at the time of your termination.
  17. If you are not allowed to get your personal items, submit a list of the unclaimed items to human recourses as soon as possible.
  18. Request a copy of your employee handbook if you don’t have one.
  19. If you do not have the opportunity to request the above at the time you are terminated, send a registered letter or email to the Human Resources Director as soon as possible requesting these documents.

You should also ask for a copy of any company policy that requires you to submit any claims to arbitration or any other alternative dispute resolution process. You should also request a copy of any company policy that imposes a statute of limitations shorter than allowed by statute on claims arising from your employment.

THEN… Contact Burgess Sharp & Golden, PLLC as soon as possible after your termination to assess your legal rights and assist you with any additional processes that are warranted.

I have just been called to Human Resources, what should I do?

You are sitting at your desk, dreaming about going out to lunch rather than eating your leftovers and when you are going to get your to do list done, when your boss shows up out of nowhere, and asks you to ‘chat with him for a few minutes’. Over his shoulder you see the new HR Generalist with a folder in her hand. You panic. You didn’t know they were coming. You didn’t know that you had even done anything wrong. Your mind races as you try to figure out what is about to happen. Consider the meeting with HR as a chance for you to learn why they have called you there and what they want to know. Most likely, when they are meeting with you they have already made up their minds regarding whatever decision needs to be made. Any statements you make or omissions will go toward furthering their cause. LISTEN more than talk during the meeting. Remember the ‘Ws’ – who, what, where and when. Try and learn as much information about the situation they are asking about without filling in the blanks they don’t already know. Be defensive without acting defensive.

If you are accused of something you did not do, deny it and ask for a chance to explain. If other documents or witnesses will support you, clearly ask for time to retrieve the documents which support you or provide them, along with witness statements in your support. If they refuse to consider your documents or witnesses, consider presenting them anyway as soon as possible after the meeting,

If you are given any documents and asked to them, DON’T!. Ask for time to review the document and respond if necessary. Return it within a reasonable time after reviewing it, usually within 48 hours. If the document is a legal document regarding your rights, ability to pursue claims, benefits or pay always have it reviewed by an attorney first. If you are told that you must sign the document during the meeting, include the following before or above your signature “I requested and was refused the right to review the document before executing. I acknowledge my receipt of the document, but NOT agreement. I am signing this document under duress.”

Following the meeting, carefully document everything said in the meeting and by whom as soon as you can so that your memory is fresh. Write detailed notes and keep them in a secure place, away from yoru work site. IF you have been given legal documents, make an appointment with Burgess Sharp & Golden as soon as possible to discuss your rights.