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DTE Energy "Charging Forward" Program

electric-2778403_1920e.jpgPaul Bohn, Esq.

On June 4, 2019, DTE Energy announced its new "Charging Forward" program. This program is designed to encourage electrical vehicle adoption by educating their customers and offering incentives.

Among the reasons someone may be concerned driving an electric car, DTE states that "limited consumer awareness and range anxiety, or the fear of running out of power before reaching a destination, are two factors suppressing electric vehicle acceptance."

Social Security Scam Calls on the Rise

phone-449836_1920.jpgBen Tigay, Esq.

The Inspector General of Social Security issued a warning to the public, noting that phone scammers are impersonating Social Security employees at an alarming rate. According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Social Security Scam increased dramatically in the past year. There have been over 76,000 reports from people receiving calls from scam imposters and roughly $19 million in losses.

Judge and Court Officer Charged with Obstruction of Justice for Aiding Fugitive Illegal Immigrant

illegal-immigration.jpgBrandon Grysko, Esq.

In this day, it seems like every political issue is highly polarized. But elected officials and public servants should not let that influence their official decisions. That is a lesson one judge and court officer are learning the hard way now that they're being charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly helping an illegal alien to escape the courtroom ahead of an ICE detainment.

Estate Planning

estate-planning.jpgBreeda K. O'Leary, Esq.

Estate planning is a topic that many people do not discuss until later in life; however, estate planning is important for people regardless of age in order to properly plan for emergencies. Estate planning involves planning a comfortable future for yourself and your loved ones. This includes planning for the inevitable and planning for unforeseen events. There is no one size fits all approach; every estate is different. Here are some answers to the most common estate planning questions:

Can Prevailing Wages Prevail in Light of State Law Prohibitions?

bank-banking-banknote-259252.jpgBrandon Grysko, Esq.

Effective June 2018, Michigan no longer requires prevailing wages in government contracts. Public Act 171 of 2018 repealed Michigan's Prevailing Wage Act (the "Act"). Under the now-repealed Act, many government contracts had to include provisions that workers would be paid fringe benefits and wages in line with workers in the locality where the contract work was to be performed. See 166 PA 1965, ยง2.

However, in 2018, a voter-initiated petition repealed the Prevailing Wage Act. Put simply, there is no longer a state mandate requiring prevailing wages. Many local governments, though, had their own prevailing wage ordinances, which were unaffected by the repeal. But are local, prevailing-wage policies legal?

Federal Court: Michigan's Legislative Districts Unconstitutionally Gerrymandered

Benjamin A. Tigay

MI-Legislative-Districts.jpg

A panel of federal judges has held that Michigan's legislative and congressional districts were gerrymandered and unconstitutional. The Court found enough evidence to hold that voters' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by the partisan drawing of the districts. This ruling means that Michigan needs new legislative and congressional districts before the next election.

The ruling comes after a trial with extensive evidence. The Court heard testimony and evidence that Michigan Republicans had the goal of redrawing districts "to solidify conservative policymaking at the state level and maintain a Republican stronghold in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade." This evidence, the Court said, "points to only one conclusion: partisan considerations played a central role in every aspect of the redistricting process" and that there "was a desire to construct districts that favored Republicans and disadvantaged Democrats." 

FOIA Request for Food Stamp Info Goes to Supreme Court after Decade-Long Battle

Brandon Grysko, Esq.

Food-Stamp-Cards.jpg

"Sunshine Laws", like the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), promote transparency in government's operations. But unlike the name implies, information isn't always freely given. South Dakota's Argus Leader newspaper is finding this out the hard way but isn't going down without a fight.

It all started in the summer of 2010, when reporters requested data from the federal government pertinent to the federal food assistance program. Reporters sent off Freedom of Information Act requests to follow the trail of food-stamp money from the government to the individual recipient stores. The reporters hoped to use the data to identify possible fraud in the program. However, the government withheld key information, like the amount of money each store received from the program. 

Google Underpays More Men Than Women?

Google Underpays More Men Than Women?

Brandon Grysko, Esq.

CNBC reported that a recent internal study at Google indicated that the company is underpaying at least one category of men when compared with women performing similar work.

Google's study found that a group of male software engineers "received less discretionary funds than women." This only looked at the company's discretionary spending and did not analyze other pay equity factors.

Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Workers-Is Regular Attendance Required?

Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Workers--Is Regular Attendance Required?

Brandon Grysko, Esq.

Depending on the circumstances, regular attendance may be an essential job function, so an employer may not have to accommodate a disabled worker that cannot regularly attend work.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers. However, what's reasonable to one person may be unreasonable to another-meaning that issue is frequently litigated. Typically, an individual with a disability is "qualified" if, with a reasonable accommodation, he or she can perform essential job functions.

Warrantless Administrative Searches Must Provide Due Process to Property Owners

Warrantless Administrative Searches Must Provide Due Process to Property Owners

Brandon Grysko, Esq.

Recently, a federal appeals court for the Sixth Circuit decided the case of Benjamin v. Stemple, which upheld the authority of a city to enter and secure dangerous vacant buildings without a warrant. An ordinance in the City of Saginaw required that vacant property owners sign a consent form allowing city inspectors to enter and secure any vacant buildings that were determined to be in dangerous condition. Saginaw property owners challenged the registration form in court, saying that it forced them to consent to unconstitutional warrantless searches of their properties. Ultimately, the court dismissed the case in favor of the city.

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