Legal Work on the Cutting Edge of Employment and Civil Rights Issues

Blanchard & Walker, PLLC, currently has paralegal and administrative support opportunities available in our Ann Arbor office. To apply, please mail a paper resume and cover letter c/o BW Hiring Committee. Blanchard & Walker, PLLC is an equal opportunity employer. [Read more…]

Michigan Settlement Reached in Unemployment “Robo-Fraud” Lawsuit

Blanchard & Walker has obtained a far-reaching settlement with the state of Michigan regarding the past, present, and future handling of unemployment claims in Michigan.  We have fought this fight for nearly two years on behalf of our clients – the UAW, Detroit’s Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, individual UIA claimants – and on behalf of all Michigan workers.  Today, the Court confirmed an unprecedented settlement and restructuring agreement with the State.  Read it here: Zynda ORD 2017-02-02 Robo Fraud Settlement and Dismissal.   Here are some of the things that we have achieved today on behalf of Michigan UIA claimants:  [Read more…]

Federal Court Order Halts Collection Activity on Unemployment Robo-Fraud Cases

A Federal Court Order issued January 11 will halt income tax garnishments and other collection activity for unemployment “robo-fraud” victims until there is an individualized staff review and the fraud finding is confirmed. The Order, entered by stipulation on January 11, 2017, is a huge victory for our clients and for all those affected by faulty robo-fraud determinations from October 2013 to August 2015. [Read more…]

“Non-compete agreements narrow the employment options for an estimated one in five workers in the United States.” 

 

Michigan non-compete contract

White House Aims to Lift the Curse of Overreaching Non-Compete Agreements

Responding to the economic impact of unnecessary and overreaching non-compete agreements – and even recent examples of employers colluding to limit job options of employees – the White House last week announced a new push to “Spur Competition in the Labor Market and Accelerate Wage Growth.” It’s about time.

 

Wow! a National Push to Reform Non-Compete Policies Across States? How Did I Miss it?

It would be understandable if you missed the announcement. The White House announcement slipped from media attention amid the frenzy in the last weeks of the presidential election and the excitement of the World Series’ return to Wrigley Field. How could the legal policy shift on an issue of labor economics compete for media attention? [Read more…]

New Rules for FLSA Overtime Exemptions

JNew Rules for FLSA Overtime Exemptions oin attorney David Blanchard next Monday October 10, 2016 (12-1:30 PM) for  an Overtime Compliance Panel Focusing on the New Salary Level Rule.  We still have some spaces left but it is filling up quick.  RSVP to Kelley at lindquistk@ewashtenaw.org or 734-994-4912 by 4 p.m. on Friday, October 7th

 

The panel discussion and Q &A session following will focus on the Department of Labor’s new salary level increase for overtime exempt employees.   [Read more…]

New EEOC Guidance on Illegal Retaliation (PDF link)

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that retaliation claims for protected reporting and other protected conduct have overtaken discrimination claims altogether.  It’s not that hard to imagine that the only thing your employer hates more than discrimination at work is actually talking about discrimination work.  Now, the EEOC has finally issued new retaliation guidance explaining the scope of protected reporting under the federal anti-discrimination laws AND the scope of employment actions that will be considered illegal retaliation.

Read on to discover how the EEOC now thinks about WORKPLACE RETALIATION and the new guidelines they will use [Read more…]

LEGISLATIVE ACTION ALERT: Proposed UIA Bill Would End Robo-Fraud Attacks on Unemployment Claimants

Blanchard Media SpotlightThe Michigan State House Oversight and Ethics Committee has passed HB 4982 H-6 that would end UIA robo-fraud accusations and other abuses of the Michigan State Unemployment Agency.  If you, a family member, or your clients (for the lawyers out there) have been caught up in robo-fraud accusations and garnishments since 2012, you should read on.

Your help is essential to put an end to the Unemployment Insurance Agency’s abusive tactics of imposing fines and wage and tax garnishments against former unemployment claimants.   Michigan’s elected representatives need to hear your voice.  On a bi-partisan vote, the Michigan House Oversight and Ethics Committee recently passed House Bill 4982 H-6, a new bill to reform the states unemployment benefits laws.  It could be voted on by the full House of Representatives and may become law – if representatives take action right now.

What would the new bill do? [Read more…]

Major Breakthrough in the Fight Against Unemployment “Robo-Fraud” Determinations as State Announces Plans to Review Old Determinations.

Since at least 2013, the Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance System has had its computers set on data-mining old claims data, sometimes going back up to six years, to find data discrepancies and automatically issue “Robo-Fraud” determinations against unemployment claimants.

Now, just more than a year after we filed the federal court lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s unemployment fraud accusations, the UIA is showing the first signs of a break under mounting pressure from multiple quartersHouse Testimony.  In April, the federal judge hearing the constitutional challenge issued an Order denying the State’s motion to dismiss and clearing the way for the case to move forward. Meanwhile in Lansing, Reforms to the State System are being contemplated in the Michigan Legislature, where attorney David Blanchard testified last week on the impact of the system for Michigan UIA claimants and on the need to strengthen protections.

Last week saw another major development [Read more…]

New From SCOTUS: First Amendment Protects Government Employees From Retaliation, Even if the Employer is Wrong About the Speech

SCOTUS: Government Employees are Protected from Retaliation

SCOTUS: Government Employees are Protected from Retaliation

In a 6-2 decision that broadens First Amendment protections for public employees, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the lower court erred when it dismissed a lawsuit brought by a New Jersey police officer who was demoted after fellow officers saw him with a campaign sign for the challenger to the incumbent police chief.

As it turned out, the plaintiff in Heffernan v. City of Patterson was not actually supporting the challenger – he was picking up the sign for his bedridden mother. The defendants were not aware of this fact. They tried to use their ignorance to their advantage, arguing that the City should not be liable for retaliation since supervisors were actually wrong about Mr. Heffernan engaging in protected speech.

Writing for the Court, Justice Breyer rejected the defendants’ argument: [Read more…]

Fighting for Independent Contractors

Clocking ovvertime

Clocking overtime for independent contractors.

Blanchard & Walker lawyers have been fighting for over a decade to secure the rights of cable technicians and other laborers who have been deprived of overtime pay by the use of “independent contractor” labels.  Still, we are amazed by the depth of the problem and astonished to hear how extreme and widespread the abuse of “independent contractor” classifications has become.   Writing for Slate, author Virginia Sole-Smith has done an excellent job to document the scope and extent of predatory misclassification of employees.  Thank you to Virginia for explaining the human toll behind these practices.

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_grind/2016/04/more_cable_and_internet_installers_are_independent_contractors_and_the_hours.html

With one swift re-classification, the otherwise “employers” are able to reduce costs related to unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation, and even avoid obligations to pay overtime. Or so some would assume. In fact, the protections of the FLSA are not dependent on the company’s discretion in picking job titles. Persons designated as “independent contractors” and other workers wrongly deprived of overtime pay have a legal right to recover the wages stolen through illegal misclassifications by their employers. [Read more…]