Michigan News & Analysis

  • Waiting is the hardest part: Don't fire poor performer without keeping good records

    Sooner or later, all employers will experience a poor performer. Ideally, struggling employees will improve through your efforts to train, review, coach, and reward good performance. But some don't improve, and you must ultimately grapple with terminating them. Before doing so, it's critical to confirm that written job evaluations accurately document the individual's performance. If you don't, you have missed an opportunity to develop the primary defense against a potential wrongful discharge claim: written reviews establishing a legitimate basis for the discharge. When the records are inadequate, your best option is to postpone the termination until you can establish an accurate account of the person's performance.

  • Handling office romance in #MeToo era: Know your options

    As Valentine's Day nears, love is in the air—and oftentimes in the workplace. Although workplace romance is common, it can make HR professionals fret about all the what-ifs. What if a relationship is between a supervisor and a direct report? What if rumors of favoritism poison the workplace environment? What if one or both participants is married to someone else? What if a couple's public displays of affection make coworkers uncomfortable? What if a relationship goes sour and the breakup affects morale? And perhaps the most important question to consider: What if a relationship is one-sided and is more accurately described as sexual harassment instead of consensual?

  • Something lacking in your workplace? Boosting employees' soft skills can help

    Anyone involved in recruiting and hiring knows the importance of assessing a candidate's skills. Does the candidate have the right training, experience, and credentials to do the job? But anyone in charge of hiring (or maybe even rehabilitating already-employed workers who aren't quite measuring up) knows that merely evaluating a candidate's hard skills isn't enough. More and more, employers are finding "soft skills" are essential in the workplace.

  • European countries take steps to confront #MeToo issues

    As the #MeToo movement enters its third year, its important to note the United States isnt the only country where the awareness of discriminatory and harassing conduct in the workplace has increased dramatically. Governments in Europe and elsewhere also have responded to the urgent need to combat the persistent and unwelcome behavior.

  • Winter is coming: FLSA and your pay obligations during inclement weather

    During the winter months, the threat of the weather turning frightful is on everyone's mind. No matter what business you may be in, inclement weather and treacherous road conditions can cause many headaches—including issues with employee payroll. Many employers grapple with the question of how to pay employees when the business is closed because of bad weather and whether deductions from pay for closures are allowed. Let's explore what the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires of employers when Mother Nature wreaks havoc.

  • Looking back at 2019 and to what's ahead for federal agencies in 2020

    The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) all ramped up their enforcement endeavors in 2019. The NLRB has refocused its efforts on unionized businesses, the new EEOC chair is pushing to settle old cases, the OFCCP director is aiming to end the year with the largest settlement total in the agency's history by resolving or litigating old audits, and the WHD has filed a record number of enforcement cases against employers.

  • SCOTUS decision on LGBTQ workplace protections coming in 2020

    Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In recent years, controversy over whether the term "sex" as used in Title VII includes sexual orientation and gender identity has arisen among the federal circuit courts of appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to resolve the split. No matter where the Court falls on the issue, the decision will supersede existing precedent in at least some circuits and will have a lasting impact for decades to come.

  • Truth about holiday season? It's not always what it's nut-cracked up to be

    Many of us are fully involved in the crush of festivities and holiday shopping that traditionally mark the beginning of the sprint to New Year's Eve. This is the season of peace on earth and good will toward our fellow man, right? Well, not always.

  • Proposed rule aims to expand use of fluctuating workweek

    A new proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) intends to clarify that employers that pay nonexempt workers bonuses or other incentive-based pay in addition to a fixed salary can use the fluctuating workweek (FWW) method of paying overtime as a way to keep costs down as long as other requirements for using the method are met.

  • Agency Action

    NLRB reports progress in case processing. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has reported improved case processing statistics for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The NLRB issued 303 decisions in contested cases during FY 2019. Adopting a case processing pilot program, the Board focused on issuing decisions in some of the oldest cases. As a result, the median age of all cases pending before the Board was reduced from 233 days in FY 2018 to 157 days at the end of FY 2019. The NLRB also said it reduced the number of cases pending before it to its lowest level since 2012. As of the end of FY 2019, the number of pending cases was reduced from 281 at the end of FY 2018 to 227 when the report was released on October 7. Also, the NLRB regional offices made strides toward meeting the Board's strategic goal to reduce case processing time by 20 percent over four years. In just one year, the regions overall nearly met the four-year goal by reducing the time of filing to disposition of unfair labor practice cases from 90 to 74 days, a decrease of 17.5 percent.