American workers are protected by a number of state and federal laws that begin to apply even before they're hired. Here's an overview of issues in Michigan.
Laws against discrimination become a factor as soon as a job advertisement is posted. Companies can't limit applicants by gender or by age unless there's a legal restriction, such as with bartending. During interviews, employers can't ask about religion or disabilities. They can't ask whether an applicant has children.
Michigan's minimum wage is $7.40 an hour, although workers between 16 and 19 years old can be paid a training wage of $4.25 during their first 90 days on the job. The wage minimum is $2.65 for workers who receive tips, but employers must make up the difference if workers bring in less than the minimum wage after receiving tips. Most workers are eligible for time-and-a-half pay after they work 40 hours each week, although the employer can grant compensatory time off instead in certain situations.
State and federal law requires that companies have programs in place to help prevent injuries and illness on the job. Steps that employers must take include seeing that employees are properly trained, that equipment works properly, and that buildings and grounds are free from hazards. Companies can't retaliate against workers who report problems by demoting them, cutting their hours, or firing them.
In Michigan, companies are required to carry workers compensation coverage if they have three or more employees, or one employee who worked at least 35 hours a week for 13 consecutive weeks. This insurance provides medical care for workers injured on the job and pays them while they rehabilitate so they can either return to their old job or move to a position that offers similar pay. Learn more about worker comp frequently asked questions.
Employers aren't required to provide vacation or holiday time, but some companies do so as a benefit. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, companies with 50 or more employees must offer unpaid leave to care for themselves or ill family members, but companies are not obligated to allow sick leave beyond this. Michigan residents don't have to be paid while serving on juries, but an employer can't fire or demote an employee who serves either.
If workers have to put up with harassment in order to keep their jobs, or if the harassment is so severe that a reasonable person would object, the person being harassed can take legal action. In general, harassment involves unwelcome comments or conduct based on national origin, religion, age, gender, race or disability. Find out more about the different types of harassment.
Leaving The Job
Michigan is an "at will" employment state. This means a worker can quit for any reason or the employer can let the worker go for any reason as long as it's not discriminatory. The only exception is if an employee handbook exists that sets out conditions or promises of employment. Such a document is considered a contract, and workers can ask courts to enforce a contract's terms. Final paychecks must be issued on the next regular payday, whether the worker quits or is fired.
After You Leave
Unless workers quit their jobs or are fired for misconduct, they can collect unemployment benefits. The pay won't equal their previous earnings, but it will help them make ends meet until they can find another job. Companies with more than 20 employees must let former employees continue health insurance, although the worker will have to pay the full premium and that's usually very expensive.
Contact A Michigan Lawyer
This article provides a general overview of a complicated topic. Consult a local Michigan labor lawyer if you need advice about a specific employment law issue.