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The Employment and Social Security Disability Blog

Couple sues over alleged discrimination in Michigan

When you think about workplace discrimination, you might immediately think of people of different races or people who look different being treated badly just because of who they are. You may not think immediately of the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LBGT) community or the impact that discrimination can still have on them today.

Unfortunately, one gay couple in Michigan has turned to the law to sue the Michigan Department of Corrections over retaliation and discrimination that they say they faced on the job.

Retaliation for Reporting a Workplace Safety Issue Relating to COVID-19

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees have rightly begun questioning their safety in the workplace. Whether you were on duty at the outset prior to Governor Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order (EO 2020-21) or an essential employee who is still working to this very day, you have the right to a safe and sanitary workplace. Several laws have been passed that protect your right to report such issues in the workplace without fear of retaliation or reprisal.


In the wake of the COVID-19 Virus, the federal government is passing many laws to combat the effects that the Virus is having on workers. On March 18, 2020, Congress recently passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which in part provides paid leave under particular circumstances. The new benefits can be broken into two major new rights: the Emergency FMLA Expansion and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave provision. Both provisions ensure that you can utilize these benefits and your job will be protected absent a few exceptions. These benefits are effective April 2, 2020 and end December 31, 2020. In this blog, we will outline what employers are covered, what exactly the new benefits are, and in what situations they can be utilized.

The Office of Labor Management Standards issues out Advisory on Union Officer Elections and Public Disclosure Reporting in Areas Affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Office of Labor Management Standards ("OLMS") has issued its Advisory on Union Officer Elections and Public Disclosure Reporting in Areas Affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). OLMS generally does not have jurisdiction over a local or international union that has purely public sector workers. Here is a summary of the Advisory:

Certain types of workplace discrimination frequently go unnoticed

While the issue of workplace discrimination has been garnering more attention in Michigan, incidents and behaviors continue to negatively impact workers. Many of these are obvious violations of employment law. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission received nearly 72,700 complaints about workplace discrimination in 2019. This number does not factor in complaints to local agencies.

While some of the reported cases featured blatant prejudice, certain examples of discriminatory behaviors were less clear. For instance, American workers who need to care for a loved one at home can face caregiver discrimination. The U.S. does not have a federally mandated minimum amount of time for which workers can receive paid leave. If a worker needs time off or an adjusted schedule, employers can penalize them for it financially by denying promotions or even dismissing them.

Applying for back pain disability

Michigan residents with degenerative disc diseases may find it difficult to work and need financial assistance in order to get by. This assistance is available through Social Security Disability, but applicants must provide medical evidence in order to qualify.

When considering disability claims on the basis of back pain, SSD examiners typically look for at least a 12-month history of medical treatment from an approved medical source. Examples of approved medical sources include physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and physical therapists. However, it should be noted that chiropractors are not accepted as an approved source at this time. If applicants are not currently receiving treatment from a doctor or have medical records that are more than 90 days old, Social Security may request that they undergo a consultative examination by one of its contracted physicians. The physician will assess the extent of the applicant's impairment during a cursory exam and report his or her findings to Social Security.

Workplace discrimination still common despite diversity efforts

A diverse workforce in Michigan does not necessarily guarantee that discrimination will not occur. A survey of employees by Glassdoor conducted in 2019 revealed that three-quarters of employees considered themselves to be part of diverse workforces. Three-fifths of respondents, however, reported that they had been subject to age, gender, race or LGBTQ discrimination or had seen it happen to others.

The survey found that ageism was the most prevalent form of discrimination according to 45% of respondents. Race and gender discrimination combined had been detected by 42% of workers, and 33% of employees said that they had seen or been the target of LGBTQ discrimination.

Social Security Administration's proposed rule for appeals

Many Michigan applications for Social Security Disability benefits are initially denied. After they receive notices of denial, the applicants are then allowed to appeal the decisions and to have their appeals heard by administrative law judges. A proposed rule by the Social Security Administration threatens to change the appeals process, leading ALJs to argue that the rule runs counter to the law.

The Social Security Administration has published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to allow appeals officers within the agency to hear appeals of lower-level disability claims. This would mean that instead of having independent reviews by administrative law judges, the appellants would instead have their claims decided internally. The comment period for the proposed rule will be open until Feb. 18.

Miller Cohen PLC Named as One of the Top Ranked Workers' Compensation Firms in Detroit

Miller Cohen PLC is proud to announce its selection as one of the top ranked workers' compensation firms in Detroit! Over 197 firms were reviewed on the following categories: reputation, credibility, experience, availability, and professionalism. Of those 197 firms, Miller Cohen PLC is in the Top 20. If you have a question regarding a work related injury, please call Miller Cohen PLC at (313) 964-4454 for a free consultation. 

Study shows women in leadership positions are still harassed

Although both men and women in Michigan can be victims of sexual harassment, workplace harassment cases usually involve men mistreating female subordinates. However, a study from the Swedish Institute for Social Research found that women who are positions of power may be more likely to experience sexual harassment at work. The survey analyzed the experiences of worker in Sweden, Japan and the United States to obtain its results. It found that women in positions of power were 30 to 100% more likely to be harassed.

The likelihood of a woman being a sexual harassment victim increased when that person was in charge of a group of men. Study participants were asked if they had experienced sexual assault in the prior 12 months. Participants were also asked if they had experienced a series of behaviors that may be construed as inappropriate.

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