Fighting For
Employee And Union Rights
Fighting For
Employee And Union Rights


“2023 – Employers who discriminate against their employees do not always suffer consequences for their actions, but in the case of Zelma Motley[1] versus her former employer Westwood Nursing Center, discriminatory actions had consequences.  When Westwood Nursing Center told Ms. Motley to lose weight and subsequently terminated her for using her cane at work, Ms. Motley sought out Miller Cohen, P.L.C. for assistance.  After a hard-fought case, Miller Cohen, P.L.C. attorneys Keith D. Flynn secured a jury verdict for Ms. Motley in the amount of $265,000.  The jury found in Ms. Motley’s favor on all counts, specifically finding that Westwood Nursing Center discriminated against Ms. Motley on the basis of her weight, in violation of the Michigan Eliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, and retaliated against Ms. Motley in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act.  The Honorable Gershwin A. Drain, Federal Court Judge, entered judgment in Ms. Motley’s favor in the amount of $265,000 for lost wages and benefits.  Miller Cohen, P.L.C. has filed papers with the Court seeking attorneys’ fees and costs on behalf of Ms. Motley.”

[1] Zelma Motley v. Metro Man I, Inc. d/b/a Westwood Nursing Center, No. 2:20-cv-11313 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

“2016 – Miller Cohen, P.L.C., attorney Keith D. Flynn was successful in obtaining a jury verdict in a Family and Medical Leave Act case involving a Wayne County Sheriff’s officer. A jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan found in favor of a former officer with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department after he was terminated for taking leave covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The jury found that Wayne County’s conduct interfered with Mr. Reeder’s rights under the FMLA. Federal Court Judge Gershwin Drain entered Judgment in the case awarding the Plaintiff $326,391.59 in back-pay, attorneys’ fees, costs, and prejudgment interest. Judge Drain also ordered that the Defendant pay post-judgment interest as well.”

“2014 – Miller Cohen, P.L.C., attorney was able to successfully settle a disability discrimination claim on behalf of a federal employee. The employer placed the employee on indefinite leave after refusing to accommodate her disability. The case settled for $130,000. Additionally, the employer agreed to provide the employee, who agreed to seek disability retirement, with retroactive benefits to the date of termination, amounting to another estimated $70,000.”

AFSCME Locals 214 and 312 and City of Detroit, Fact Finding Report and Recommendations (April 22, 2014)

U.S. Judge Steven Rhodes agrees with Miller Cohen, P.L.C., attorney Richard Mack on behalf of AFSCME Council 25, that an administrative law judge should be allowed to issue an opinion as to whether the City of Detroit violated labor law by unilaterally ending an expected benefit without first negotiating.

Detroit judge lets union seek opinion on 13th pension check

Miller Cohen, P.L.C., attorney Keith D. Flynn won a significant win for Wayne County employees on February 13, 2014, when the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a decision of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) finding that the County bargained in bad faith with its unions. Specifically, Wayne County cut employee compensation by one-fifth of their weekly pay by reducing the work week to four days a week in clear repudiation of the County’s agreement with its unions. The decision is estimated to restore over $1 million in unlawfully withheld wages to County employees.” The Court of Appeals’ decision can be found here: http:// publicdocs. courts. :81/OPINIONS/ FINAL/COA/ 20140213_ C303672_ 45_303672. OPN.PDF.

“October 10, 2013: Miller Cohen, P.L.C., attorney Keith D. Flynn won a big victory for active employees and retirees against Wayne County in a decision issued by Administrative Law Judge Doyle O’Connor. Wayne County was ordered to repay over $32 million with interest in pension funds that the County confiscated from a fund held in trust for active employees and retirees. In addition, the County was ordered to pay retirees any back-pay they would have received had the County not unlawfully changed the method of calculating the 13th Check.”

http:// www. freep. com/ article/ 20131011/ NEWS02/ 310110119/ Wayne-County -retirees- 13th-checks

“2013 – Attorney Richard Mack represented the former Legislative Auditor for the City of Pontiac. Her job was to work with the part-time city council. She had a four year contract for employment, but was discharged early by the Emergency Financial Manager. This was prior to the most recent Emergency Manager laws (either 2011 Public Act 4 or 2012 Public Act 436). The plaintiff sued the City, and the City claimed that the EFM had the right to terminate the contract under the EFM law in existence at the time (1990 Public Act 172). Attorney Mack filed a motion for partial summary judgment in the federal lawsuit, and was successful. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately affirmed the judgment in favor of the Plaintiff. As opposed to going before a jury to assess the plaintiff’s damages, the parties settled. The trial court and appellate court opinions set precedent for how to address the powers of the Emergency Financial Manager under that statute. Some say, unfortunately, that the case encouraged a change in the law to Public Act 4 in 2011.”

“2012 – In Maddin v. TransAm Trucking, Inc, the complainant in this case was a truck driver that had his brakes on the trailer lock up while delivering a load in frigid temperatures. The complainant called in the broken breaks and was forced to wait for several hours. While he was waiting, the cabin heater also malfunctioned. In fear for his life and safety in subzero temperatures, the complainant unlocked the trailer and drove to safety. The employer terminated him for leaving his load unattended. The Administrative Law Judge awarded total damages in excess of $170,000 for the employer’s violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (“STAA”). He was awarded back pay, noneconomic damages, interest, attorney fees and reinstatement.”

“2012 – Robert D. Fetter of Miller Cohen, P.L.C., was able to successfully settle an FMLA claim where employer terminated an employee for allegedly fraudulently claiming FMLA. The case settled for over $200,000.”

“2012 – Miller Cohen, P.L.C., had an important win on a motion for summary judgment in the Western District. In Ambs v. Sir Home Improvement et al, we represent an employee who was denied time off of work to be with his wife and newborn child. Also, we represented Mr. Ambs and two other employees in state court regarding sales commissions that were owed under the Michigan Sales Representatives Commissions Act, but not paid by Sir Home Improvement. The state court case settled leaving only Ambs’ FMLA case in federal court.

After we filed our complaint in the Western District, Defendant filed a counterclaim alleging unjust enrichment; according to Defendant, Ambs was actually overpaid. Notably, this counterclaim was not filed in the state court action where the amount of Mr. Ambs’ commissions was actually at issue. As a result of Defendant’s counterclaim, we filed an amended complaint alleging retaliatory counterclaim in violation of Plaintiff’s rights under FMLA–a novel cause of action in the Western District of Michigan. We also amended to add Defendant’s owner and Plaintiff’s direct supervisor in their individual capacities under FMLA. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgement alleging that Plaintiff could not raise retaliatory counterclaim as a cause of action and that Defendant’s owner should be dismissed because he was not the individual who directly terminated Plaintiff.

The Western District resoundingly denied Defendants’ Motion and substantiated retaliatory counterclaim as a valid cause of action. Also, the Court denied Defendants’ Motion with respect to the owner of the company.”

Ambs v. Sir Home Improvement et al (PDF)

“2012 – Attorney Richard Mack represented an employee of Wayne County who worked at a Pump Station. The employee noticed that the station was polluting a nearby river, and went to government officials to complain about the issue. The County discharged him for – among other reasons – damaging the reputation of the County by daring to flag an environmental issue that was the fault of the County. This employee sued under the First Amendment and the Michigan Whistleblower Protection Act. After months of discovery, the Court issued an opinion that the violation of the law was so clear, it did not need resolution by a jury; the Court granted Attorney Mack’s motion for partial summary judgment. After the motion was granted, the only issue left for the jury was the amount the plaintiff was entitled to in damages. The plaintiff ultimately received a one-half million dollar consent judgment. In addition, after the suit was filed, the state of Michigan issued a violation against the County for the environmental and operational issues at the pump station – many of the same issues raised by complaint. Attorney Mack was pleased that he not only received justice for the wronged worker, but also improvement in the environment.”

“2012 – The City of Detroit sought to eliminate its health department and workforce development department (department that assists residents with finding work and filing for unemployment). The City set to lay off the nearly 200 employees in these Departments, and send the operations to outside companies, without first complying with the union contract. Attorney Richard Mack represented the union and pursued the matter in the court and to arbitration. This elimination of these departments took place just before the time that Governor Snyder blocked the City from entering into a contract with the civilian unions, in order that the City could enter into the infamous Consent Agreement (in April 2012) and terminate the union contracts as of June 30, 2012. The City argued that because the workers in the health department were not laid off and replaced by outside contractors until three months after the contract expired, the grievance to challenge the action was no longer valid. However, Attorney Mack was able to show that enough of the transfer of the health and workforce development departments took place before the contract expiration (including a letter from the Governor approving the transfer on June 27, 2012, three days before the contract expiration). Thus, the Arbitrator ordered the laid off employees to be put back to work with back pay (if not hired by the new companies). The matter is currently on appeal, after the trial court enforced the Arbitration award.”

“2011 – The Republican dominated Michigan Legislature passed a bill, which Governor Snyder signed into law that permitted the State of Michigan to deduct an additional 3% of wages from all state employees in order to fill a budget shortfall. The attorneys at Miller Cohen P.L.C. were able to thwart this attack on middle class workers. Representing AFSCME and group of state employees, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision that the reduction in wages was unconstitutional. The Michigan constitution provides that all changes to the compensation of state employees must be approved by the State Civil Service Commission. This avoids the politicization of state employee compensation. In this matter, the Legislature did not seek approval of lowering the state employee wages. The employees were given back all of their wages that they paid into this unconstitutional scheme.”

Decision and Opinion (PDF)

“2011 – Miller Cohen, P.L.C., was able to obtain a verdict of over $770,000 from a jury in a whistleblower case. The case involved an employee of a nursing home who assisted the Michigan Department of Community Health in its investigation of resident abuse or neglect at Omni Continuing Care, which is operated by Ciena HealthCare Management Inc. The employer alleged that it terminated the employee for failing to properly manage her department. However, the evidence showed that the employer attempted to manufacture evidence against her and terminated her rather than the employees and managers whose behavior that the investigators found put the residents of the facility in risk of great harm. This case was litigated by attorney Robert Fetter.”

http: //milawyersweekly .com/ news/2011/07/ 22/ respiratory-therapy- manager- claims-unjust-termination/

“2011 – Robert D. Fetter of Miller Cohen, P.L.C., was able to successfully settle a First Amendment Retaliation and whistleblower case for over $300,000.”

“2011 – Blind concession stand operators are given a special program, run by the state of Michigan, to own and operate concession stands in government buildings. One blind vendor was licensed by the state and hired four working-class women in his store. This vendor took advantage of their economic hardships and abused them physically, verbally and mentally, creating a sexually hostile working environment. He frequently grabbed their breasts (he obviously had some sight) and other sensitive areas, propositioned them for sex, forced them to hop on one leg and cluck like chickens, made lewd and offensive remarks about their weight and body parts, invited other persons in the building – in front of them – to have sex with them for fun, and much more. The four women complained to the state of Michigan and told them of the vulgar treatment. Despite being able to force the vendor to stop, the state refused to do anything. Once the women complained to the Civil Rights Department, the vendor fired them. As it turns out, the state should have listened, because the blind vendor ultimately was imprisoned for criminal sexual conduct committed on his 7-year-old niece. The women hired attorney Richard Mack to sue the state for the loss of their job, and the hostile environment that the state refused to end. Following an unsuccessful effort to dismiss the case filed by the Attorney General’s office, the plaintiffs received a consent judgment of $500,000 from the state of Michigan.”

“2009 – The Michigan Employment Relations Commission issued a decision dismissing Wayne County’s unfair labor practice charge against AFSCME. In the decision, the MERC recognized for the first time that Michigan law follows federal law in that unions may represent retirees in grievances regarding retiree benefits with the retiree’s consent. The MERC also ruled that retirees may, with or without the assistance of their union, attempt to remedy breaches of agreements regarding collectively bargained retiree benefits. Bruce Miller litigated this case on behalf of AFSCME. This case is important to describe the actions that retirees can take in the face of employers taking away agreed-upon retirement benefits.”

Wayne County and AFSCME Decision and Order (PDF)

“2009 – Attorney Robert Fetter obtained an award from an Arbitrator reinstating with full back pay four court officers employed with 36th District Court. The amount of the award will exceed $3.5 million. The Chief Judge of the Court terminated the four employees relying on her authority given by court rule to appoint court officers. However, the Chief Judge agreed in a collective bargaining agreement not to terminate court officers unless there was just cause. The arbitrator ruled that the collective bargaining agreement governed and the Chief Judge did not have just cause to terminate the court officers.”

“2009 – Attorney Robert Fetter filed a lawsuit against the City of Detroit, Monica Conyers, and Mariners Inn alleging that Mariners Inn terminated a drug treatment counselor because he filed a petition seeking to recall Monica Conyers. The Complaint alleges that Monica Conyers called officials at Mariners Inn and threatened that she would oppose funding for the organization unless they fired the employee. The case is being litigated in the Eastern District of Michigan Federal District Court.”

City of Ann Arbor v. AFSCME Local 369 (Michigan COA Decision) (PDF)

“2009 – Attorneys at Miller Cohen, P.L.C., obtained an order from U.S. District Court refusing to dismiss its client’s claims of race discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblower against nursing home. The case will proceed to trial. Based in part upon testimony of several witnesses, including an African-American supervisor and African-American and white co-workers, the plaintiff alleged that her former employer treats employees differently based upon race. Further, the plaintiff, who was previously an employee of the year and nominated for a national caregiver award for her care of the elderly, reported that coworkers, who happened to be white, were leaving patients overnight soiled in their own excrement. For several months, the employer took no action to remedy the situation. She reported the issue internally and ultimately to the state of Michigan. The employer targeted her for selective discipline and ultimately terminated her. The state of Michigan ultimately found that her employer was violating the law and her employment case is pending a trial date.”

Sexual harassment: Atty Richard Mack won a $450,000 consent judgment for a young woman who was forced to have sex with the owner of the company she worked for. The jury heard the plaintiff choke through tears; one juror actually cried herself. After her psychologist described the deep-seated pain the woman still suffered from, the case settled. The three-day trial ended when the defendant was forced to admit that he had lied under oath after the plaintiff’s strong case was presented before the jury. Atty Mack explained that lying under oath never pays: “In my depositions of the defendant early on, he committed to his defenses to the charges of harassment. Once the defendant commits to a response – either in sworn testimony or a response to a civil rights charge – it has locked itself in and cannot change before the jury. In this case, the defendant had committed to a position many times over and was forced to settle because the position was shown to be a lie.”

“2008 – The Thirty-Sixth District Court made an illegal decision to try and save money, without proper consultation with the AFSCME union which represents its employees. It closed its doors on every other Friday, in violation of the clear language of the AFSCME-Court bargaining agreement. Atty Richard Mack represented AFSCME in the union’s charge with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, claiming that the unilateral change was a violation of state labor law. The Commission ruled in favor of AFSCME, awarding the AFSCME-represented court employees back pay and benefits for the months that they lost Friday work. While the Court is appealing the Commission’s ruling, it is expected that – with interest – the back pay and benefit award to employees could be close to $1 million dollars.”

“2008 – The City of Detroit had laid off 25 employees who assist the public in the Neighborhood City Halls. These employees were represented by the union Michigan AFSCME Council 25, and its Local 1023. The laid-off employees were replaced with non-union persons who did the same work. Atty Richard Mack represented the union before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, the state labor board. The City’s claim was that the replacements were of City volunteers, not employees, so the replacements were not a violation of labor law. AFSCME argued otherwise. After litigating much of the charges, a settlement was negotiated of well over $200,000 in back pay and benefits. Atty Mack said “even though the replacement personnel was not paid for directly by the city, replacing union members with non-union members is wrong. This new tactic must be challenged at every turn.”

“2008 – In a labor arbitration award, the arbitrator awarded reinstatement and partial back pay to a union member that was discharged for allegedly using inappropriate language at work. After hearing from the witnesses at a hearing, the arbitrator found that the employer exaggerated its claims against the union member and the facts did not support a termination.”

“2005 – The City of Detroit laid off employees in its neighborhood city halls and began using non-union employees and volunteers to do their work. The city took this action without complying with the union contract. Attorney Richard Mack represented the union in an unfair labor practice charge before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission. Following extensive litigation, the city settled with the Union and the employees were awarded back pay amounting to almost $400,000.”

Sexual Harassment and Retaliation — A $579,000 settlement that Miller Cohen, P.L.C., recently obtained for its clients in a sexual harassment and retaliation case was recognized in Michigan Lawyers Weekly. (Newspaper article retaliation settlement)

Collective Bargaining Miller Cohen, P.L.C., attorneys obtain enforcement of Court Order compelling employer to pay nearly $350,000 to unionized employees ( OP Local 67 v. Gem Management.)

Arbitration Award – Class Action Grievance On behalf of their Union client, Miller Cohen attorneys were successful in obtaining arbitration award halting the subcontracting of bargaining unit work ( OPEIU Local 459 and McLaren Medical Center.)

AFSCME Council 25 and City of Livonia The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 25, through their attorneys at Miller Cohen, P.L.C., obtain a Direction of Election for a bargaining unit consisting of part-time and seasonal employees of the City of Livonia’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Illegal Discrimination NLRB finds that employer discriminated against employees for their union activity. The Board orders reinstatement and back pay for terminated employees. The Board also finds that employer interfered with the employees’ free choice in union election and orders a new election. ( AFSCME and Huron Valley Sinai Hospital.

Garrett v. City of Detroit Court prevents privatization in violation of City of Detroit ordinance on behalf of City employees.

DMC v. AFSCME Court enforces arbitration award and orders the employer to reinstate employee with back-pay.