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Litigation Trends Analysis

December 15, 2020

Michigan Business Shutdowns Continue
As a second wave of COVID-19 shutdowns has been in effect in Michigan since November 15, beleaguered industries have once again turned to litigation. Robert Gordon, Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, has extended his latest Emergency Order until December 20. That Emergency Order closes casinos, bowling centers, movie theaters, private high schools and bans indoor dining at restaurants and bars. Honigman represents the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association and other hospitality entities in litigation challenging Director Gordon, and the Michigan Association of Non-Public Schools filed its own legal challenge on December 7. As Director Gordon’s shutdown orders continue into the new year, expect more industry representatives to show up in court seeking relief.

FFCRA Wrongful Termination Claims on the Rise
Many companies are seeing new actions being brought against them by employees alleging wrongful termination, especially surrounding FFCRA leave provisions. Employees are filing actions both centered on terminations after FFCRA leave and where FFCRA leave is a secondary issue. Employees are also using the FFCRA’s provisions to secure additional leverage when terminated for other reasons. Employers will want to seriously consider removal to federal court in such cases.

Workers Sue OSHA over Failure to Enforce COVID-19 Protocols
Workers at a Pennsylvania meat processing plant are attempting to sue the federal Occupational and Health Safety Administration (OSHA) after OSHA declined to cite the plant following an investigation of formal worker complaints. OSHA indicated that the plant was not an imminent danger to workers and that it would investigate no further. The workers now ask the Middle District of Pennsylvania to intervene on their behalf to ensure worker safety at the plant and mandate OSHA force the plant to comply with OSHA’s COVID-19-related protocols.

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