Michigan Laws Concerning Employment Termination

The state of Michigan allows employers to fire employees without a reason in most cases, although some exceptions apply. If a terminated worker believes that her employer has violated state or federal labor law by firing her, she can file a claim with the U.S. Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Michigan Department of Labor, depending on the type of violation. Terminated employees do not have a right to severance or unused vacation pay unless the employer outlined these obligations in an employment contract.

A Michigan employer must pay all owed wages to a terminated employee as soon as possible but no later than the next scheduled payday, according to Sections 408.474 and 408.475 of the Michigan Complied Laws (MCL). If the employer contests any part of the owed wages, she must pay the employee the uncontested shared of owed monies. An employer cannot terminate an employee if the employee must attend jury duty or the employer finds out that the worker has criminal charges against him without a successful conviction.

Both federal and state law prevent employers who hire one or more employees from discriminating against workers based upon race, national origin, religion, sex or color. Employers must reinstate employees who take military leave and cannot terminate an employee due to his participation in the National Guard or the U.S. armed forces. Businesses that wrongfully terminate an employee due to discrimination may face a claim for damages within three years of the original incident.

The state of Michigan does not require most businesses to provide employees with notice before termination. The U.S. Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires all factory employers with more than 100 employees to notify workers of a plant closure 60 days before it happens. This act also applies if the factory owner intends to fire at least a third of its work force. Workers can seek damages under federal law if the employer doesn't provide notice, according to the Nacht Law firm. The state of Michigan encourages businesses with 25 or more employees that intend to close to notify employees.

An employer cannot fire an employee due to labor law complaints filed with the Michigan Department of Labor because of employer violations of wage law and overtime rules. In addition, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1974 forbids a business from firing an employee due to his unwillingness to work in a dangerous work environment. If a business wrongfully terminates an employee, the employee can sue for lost wages and attorney fees, and the Michigan Department of Labor may fine or sanction the business.