I had the opportunity to talk with two plaintiff's attorneys last night at a reception recognizing the Michigan lawyers who were newly elected to the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Both attorneys indicated that they were extremely busy with discrimination cases. The first attorney indicated that there was an increase in disability cases and, in particular, cases involving Parkinson's disease. The attorney stated that he had three separate appointments with the EEOC with three separate individuals. In each case, once the earlier manifestations of the disease began, the individuals were terminated. He stated it is his practice to accompany the individual to the EEOC because in most instances, it is the first time an individual has been to the federal building and has had to deal with the security measures. He finds that by attending the meeting, he can help the EEOC get a more focused picture of the charge. The second attorney commented that he was seeing more age and sex discrimination cases. He said that employers seemed to be much more cautious when dealing with a potential race claim, but that employers, both large and small, did not seem to apply that caution in those two areas. He noted that employers do not seem to be as concerned about terminating older employees in light of the savings that can result from hiring younger employees. Employers need to continue to use due diligence when contemplating the termination of employees who are in protected classes. With a slowly improving economy in Michigan, finding a job is still a challenge; employees who are terminated are motivated to challenge the action, given the job market. The Detroit EEOC office is particularly aggressive in disability discrimination cases and focuses on the frequent failure of employers to adequately train management on the requirements of the ADA and reasonable accommodation. With the increase of activity in disability discrimination cases, employers need to make sure they have adequately educated their management employees of the ADA's requirements and obligations and are not blindsided during an investigation.
For additional Labor and Employment law insights from John Holmquist, visit the Michigan Employment Law Connection.
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