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How can I fight wrongful termination in Michigan?

"Fire at will" isn't exclusive to execution squads. Troy employers may give a reason for firing a worker, but according to Michigan's at-will termination rules, companies are not required to do so. However, it is not true employers have free rein when it comes to issuing pink slips.

Wrongful termination occurs when discrimination is the basis for firing workers. Federal and state employment laws prohibit discrimination against employees belonging to protected classes. Employees in these categories are not immune from being fired, but worker dismissals may not be linked to characteristics like gender, disability, age, color, religion, race and national origin.

Government anti-discrimination rules overlap, but state statutes are often more expansive than federal laws. Additional protected categories under Michigan anti-discrimination laws include, but are not limited to, employee weight, marital status, height and arrest records.

Wrongful discharge isn't the only form of employer discrimination. Mistreatment can occur while an employee is still on the job through demotions, transfers, changes in hours or pay and denials of leave, benefits or promotions. Employers have the power to make these changes but may not do so for discriminatory reasons.

No single agency is responsible for all discrimination claims, making it difficult for workers to know where and how to file complaints. For instance, discrimination claims based on race, gender, age and several other worker characteristics are handled by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and at the federal level by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Pay and benefits complaints are covered by the Wage and Hour Divisions of the U.S. Department of Labor and the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration handles claims about unsafe work conditions.

Employment lawyers are familiar with the protocol used for filing complaints, internally and externally. Workers can benefit from a claim assessment and legal advice about pursuing a discrimination complaint.

Source: State of Michigan, "Frequently Asked Employment Questions," accessed June 25, 2015

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