Author: Aaron Burrell

Michigan Court of Appeals Offers Guidance to Employers in Documenting Reasons for Hiring, Promotions

On February 1, 2018, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an opinion which offers employers guidance regarding ways to document the reasoning behind hiring, promotion, and termination decisions to overcome allegations of discriminatory intent. In O’Dell v. State of Michigan, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued Feb. 1, 2018 (Docket No. 334146), the plaintiff was a female trooper employed with the state police department. She alleged that the department discriminated against her when it chose male officers over for her certain vacant sergeant positions. Specifically, she alleged that the “selection process for sergeants is inherently subjective,” and that the interview process “‘lends itself to manipulation and, in this case, unlawful discrimination.’” Id. at 4. The trial court, notwithstanding, granted a motion for summary disposition dismissing the female trooper’s case. The Court of Appeals, in a split decision, affirmed. In affirming summary disposition for the department, the court reiterated the burden of proof stated in McDonell Douglas Corp v Green, 411 US 792 (1973) and noted that the plaintiff was required to prove, among other things, that the “job was given to another person under circumstances giving rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination.” If the plaintiff is able to make such a showing, the employer then has an “opportunity to articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its employment decision.” Hazle v Ford Motor Co, 464...

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To Institute Arbitration, Employers Must Make Employee Acceptance a Condition of Continued Employment

On December 15, 2017, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan issued an opinion reinforcing the principle that an employer may only institute arbitration as a dispute resolution mechanism for existing employees if the employer expressly informs the employee that continued employment is contingent upon the employee’s acceptance of the arbitration mechanism. In Cerjanec v. FCA US, LLC, No. 17-10619, 2017 WL 6407337 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 15, 2017), the plaintiffs alleged that an employee-evaluation policy worked a disparate impact on employees aged 55 or older, resulting in missed career advancements, bonuses, and other employment opportunities. The employer sought to compel arbitration, asserting that the plaintiffs “assented to arbitration when they continued to work at the employer after receiving notice of the arbitration policy.” 2017 WL 6407337, at *1. Specifically, the employer argued that those plaintiffs entered into binding agreements to arbitrate when they continued to work for the employer after receiving, in 1995, an Employment Dispute Resolution Process notice (the “EDRP”), stating that non-union employees must submit most employment-related disputes to arbitration. The notice informed employees that “IT APPLIES TO YOU.  It will govern all future legal disputes between you and [the employer] that are covered under the Process.” The Court found no merit in the employer’s argument that the employees agreed to arbitration simply by remaining employed after receiving the EDRP. The Court found...

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The HR Blog is published by Dickinson Wright PLLC to inform the public of important developments within the firm and practice areas. The content is informational only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. We encourage you to consult a Dickinson Wright attorney if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered in this blog.

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