Resource Partner Ascentis Updates COVID-19 Blog Information

Contact: Thomas LaRose, Ascentis Marketing Specialist,, O: (800) 229-2713, x 4466


Detroit SHRM’s Resource Partner, Ascentis, has updated their blog with new resource material to help adjust to the new work world under COVID-19.

Paycheck Protection Program Loans: The Key Facts

How to Adjust Your Labor Model in the Gig Economy Shift

Why Automated Time and Attendance Software Makes Sense For You

More Coronavirus Financial Help Is on The Way: The Federal Reserve Takes Action

What to Know About the New “Corona-3a” Bill

Hope you find these articles helpful.

About Ascentis:  Recognized as a Best Place to Work, Ascentis helps organizations improve their human resources and payroll functions with its industry-leading workforce management solutions and a-la-carte, full suite human capital management technology platform. Supported by an ongoing commitment to delivering an unsurpassed client-centric service model, Ascentis’ recruiting, HRIS, workforce management, benefits administration, performance and learning management, payroll and recruiting modules work independently or together to meet the needs of each client, wherever they are in the HCM journey.  Website:

How to Work from Home with Kids: The Ultimate List of Tips and Resources

By Karina Schultheis

  • In the wake of social distancing measures, many working parents are now working remotely while caring for children who are home from school.
  • Strategies like establishing a clear schedule, taking shifts with a spouse, and taking regular breaks can help optimize productivity and efficiency.
  • There are also plenty of free or low-cost resources to help keep children entertained, engaged, and learning during this time.

Remote work has been increasing in popularity for years, with more than 43% of U.S. employees working remotely at least some or all of the time according to Gallup. And with social distancing playing a crucial role in suppressing the spread of the coronavirus, working from home is more than a privilege—it’s become a necessity for many organizations where remote work is possible. Meanwhile, the majority of school districts and daycares are closed across the country—in some cases indefinitely— meaning that working parents are now playing triple-duty as full-time employees, full-time caregivers, and, potentially, educators. This has many of us, myself included, asking: How do I efficiently work from home with kids?

This will certainly impact people differently depending on the ages of their children, but there are strategies that can work for everyone to help improve your productivity (not to mention sanity) while juggling work and family. Remember: We’re all in this together, and most employers, managers, and coworkers are extra understanding right now. Remember that hilarious video of a baby and toddler making a cameo on BBC News? That’s reality right now, for all of us. No shame!

That said, here are some tips and tricks to help you balance the challenge of taking care of our families while working remotely to support your teams, customers, and partners. It’s not easy to work from home with kids, but it’s definitely doable.

Strategies to help you work from home with kids

  • Establish a clear schedule: More than ever, having a clear schedule (for both you and your kids) can help you determine what needs to be done and when. Take a look at your must-accomplish tasks and high-demand time slots and schedule learning and reading time, creative time, clean-up, nap time, outdoor time, and technology time for your children where it makes the most sense. For example, if you know you have an important conference call at 10am, it may be wise to spend ten minutes making sure your children are set up with snacks, drinks, and activities beforehand, or turning on a favorite show to buy you some distraction-free time. Varied schedules can also help alleviate boredom and provide clear expectations for everyone about what the day’s needs look like. (Click here for a sample schedule of what this could look like.)

    That said, one of the biggest benefits of working from home is flexibility, and kids of all ages are notorious for not abiding perfectly by schedules. Many employers will be more flexible and understand the need for non-traditional schedules right now if you are working at home with kids. Depending on the situation, it may be okay to push an assignment aside to go play outside or have lunch as a family, and return to the task later when they’re distracted or sleeping.

  • Make a must-do list: To-do lists help improve productivity and focus in any situation, but right now, when your productivity might be limited, a list can help you focus on your absolute highest-priority tasks so you’re not wasting precious distraction-free time on less critical tasks.
  • Take shifts with your spouse: If applicable, and depending on the flexibility of your and your spouse’s work, you may be able to switch off childcare responsibilities throughout the day. For example, one of you can start working early in the morning while the other makes breakfast and plays with the kids outside; an hour or two later, you switch and help with homeschooling or activities while the other partner gets high-value work done. This strategy, especially when paired with others listed here, can help you buy more uninterrupted work time, particularly during important meetings or to meet critical deadlines.
  • Use your home office (or set up a temporary one): Having clear separation from the rest of the house—ideally with a door you can shut—can help keep distractions to a minimum. Your “office” may look like a closet, a bedroom, or a basement—the key is to find a quiet, uninterrupted space that acts as a physical boundary. Consider finding a nonverbal way to communicate to your kids when you absolutely cannot be bothered; for example, making a “stoplight” for family members by hanging red, yellow, or green construction paper on the door, or establishing rules that a closed door means “emergency only.” (Of course, this strategy works best for older children, and it is also important to make sure you do have plenty of periods during the day where the door is open/light is “green.”)
  • Take breaks: You might feel pressured to be “always on” right now, especially if you’re new to working remotely and want to prove to your team that you’re working as hard as ever. But taking regular breaks is crucial for both you and your children during this time. If you can give your kids 10 to 20 minutes of quality time, that will often buy you an hour or two of uninterrupted time afterwards. Remember, this is an uncertain and potentially scary time for them too, and they may need your support more than ever. Take these shorter breaks to truly connect—get on the floor and play, cuddle up with a story, help them with a project or sit and learn with them as they “homeschool.”
  • Take advantage of sleep time: Translate the old adage “sleep when baby sleeps” to “work when kids are sleeping.” Many children up to age four or five still nap for several hours a day, offering prime working opportunities. Even older children who don’t nap can be encouraged to participate in mandatory “quiet time” dedicated to reading or playing outside, buying you time to focus on assignments that require your complete concentration. You can also try waking up early and accomplishing crucial tasks before your family rises, or putting children to bed a bit earlier than usual and using that time to finish projects or catch up on emails. This is probably one of the most effective ways to accomplish work from home with kids.
  • Keep children entertained. Create a “boredom box” filled with crafts and activities, stocked with things like construction paper, pom poms, scissors, glitter, paints, play-doh, googly eyes (anything, really!). You can either come up with a list of potential projects or let their imagination run wild. This is also a good time to practice rotating toys, perhaps having five boxes of favorite toys/puzzles/etc. and switching them out each day of the week.
  • Loosen up on screentime. Even if you are vehemently anti-screentime, for many children, watching TV and playing video games is quite effective at keeping them quiet and occupied. If you have an important conference call or deadline coming up, and allowing them extra screentime allows you to meet your obligations, it’s probably worth it. Try not to feel guilty – this is a highly unusual, temporary situation. There are also plenty of educational shows and online games that you can point to (see below for more resources to help you through this time).
  • Considerations for young children: Parents of young children, such as infants, babies, and toddlers, are at a disadvantage in terms of potential strategies – even screentime isn’t a cure-all for young children, and setting boundaries isn’t really feasible with a nine-month-old. However, there are two advantages on your side: nap time, and babywearing. Toddlers often nap for two or three hours at a time and infants typically nap three to five hours a day (often spaced between two or three naps). Babywearing is also a great strategy to help you get work done during awake moments, as babies are more likely to be soothed and quiet when close to you.

Additional resources to help you work from home with kids

  • Here is a list of all educational companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings.
  • Pinterest is always a great resource for coming up with homeschooling activities, art projects, baking ideas, and so much more.
  • Etsy is a great place to find low-cost homeschooling materials for children of all ages. As the parent of a five-year-old, some of my favorites have been Let’s Play School and Bitty Beginnings.
  • I’ve been using The Good and the Beautiful Pre-K coursework with my daughter, and I absolutely love it. These homeschool curriculums are designed for full-time homeschoolers but they would be incredible no-prep (read: you don’t have to print out or assemble) supplements for parents who want to ensure their children don’t disrupt their learning during this time at home. The company has rave reviews and curriculums and games that span from pre-kindergarten through high school.
  • Disney Nature has a wide variety of educational materials for curriculum, lesson plans, and fun activities that build on videos for students grades 2-6.

The ability to work from home is an incredible blessing, especially now, but it can come with challenges. Learn how to enhance the employee experience and keep engagement levels high while working remotely or read the latest research on remote work.

Want more information on Ultimate Software? Contact

New ADA Case Is Great For Employers

By: Claudia D. Orr


Usually I just write about the cases that are bad news for employers because I want to spread a cautionary tale to keep readers out of trouble. But this new case tickled me several times as I read it and I thought why not share some good news for a change.

Booth v Nissan North America, Inc. is a published decision the by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit involving discrimination and failure to accommodate claims brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). As you know, since the ADA was amended in 2008 it seems nearly every medical issue is a disability under the act. At least we know that would be the position of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)! So when the appellate court found Plaintiff’s work restrictions not to be a disability, I was simply thrilled.

Plaintiff Michael Booth worked at a Nissan factory in Tennessee. In 2004, Booth injured his neck and was placed on several restrictions that prevented him from reaching above his shoulders more than 33% of the time or flexing or extending his neck more than 66% of the time.  However, he could still perform his job and did so for the next ten years.

In 2015, Booth requested another position at the factory, which he was denied because it would have violated his “permanent” work restrictions. That job would not have increased Booth’s benefits or wages, but is viewed as a “preferred” position that Nissan rewards to more senior workers.

Soon after, Nissan decided to restructure the assembly line jobs requiring Booth to not only perform the two tasks he was already doing, but two more. Unfortunately, with the now ten year old restrictions, Booth would have been unable to perform the two extra tasks. While Booth was allowed to temporarily continue working on the line in his original “two-job” position, he was told that Nissan may not have a job for him unless his restrictions changed. Booth was encouraged to see a physician to determine whether he still needed the restrictions.

A physician performed a functional capacity test and modified Booth’s restrictions. The restriction concerning flexing or extending of neck was removed, but he was still limited from reaching above his shoulder more than 33% of the time. In February 2017, Booth was returned to the assembly line where he continued to work throughout the litigation and appeal.

Booth claims he is a person with a disability and that Nissan unlawfully denied him reasonable accommodation. Booth filed an intake questionnaire with the EEOC in November 2016 and a formal charge of discrimination with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission in December 2016. Both charges were dismissed by the EEOC after concluding Booth had failed to present sufficient information to establish a violation of the ADA.

Booth filed a civil lawsuit in the federal District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee which was dismissed when the court granted Nissan’s motion for summary judgment.

The first issue on appeal was whether Booth’s lawsuit was timely filed. The appellate court explained that “the plaintiff must first file a charge describing the alleged discrimination, either with the EEOC or with an equivalent state agency, before he can litigate the claim in court. “If the plaintiff files his charge directly with the EEOC, he must do so within 180 days of the alleged discrimination; if he chooses instead to file the charge with an equivalent state agency, he has 300 days from the alleged discrimination.”

According to Nissan, it informed Booth sometime in November 2015 that his transfer request to the “preferred” job was denied. The appellate court rejected Booth’s argument that the denial was somehow not permanent at that time simply because he continued to ask to speak to higher level supervisors about the decision. “Nissan’s decision was no less final, simply because Nissan supervisors explained the company’s decision to Booth several times in 2015 and 2016. Those discussions did not reset the 300-day deadline to file the charge.” Thus, his charge was not timely since it was brought a year after the decision. An “impotent attempt to renew his earlier request” has no impact on when the limitations period begins. This is a great quote that I intend to use in the future.

Next, the court reviewed Booth’s allegation that he is disabled. Under the ADA, Booth was required to show that (1) he had a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (2) a record of such impairment, or (3) he was “regarded” as having such an impairment.

“Working” is a major life activity, but being unable to perform a discrete task or specific job or simply “having a work restriction does not automatically render one disabled.” The 2008 amendments to the ADA are more favorable to coverage and an impairment that substantially limits one major life activity does not need to limit others in order to be a disability.

However, even after the 2008 amendments, “a plaintiff who alleges a work-related disability ‘is still required to show that [his] impairment limits [his] ability to ‘perform a class of jobs or broad range of jobs’.”  Having a substantial limitation in performing “unique aspects of a single specific job” does not rise to the level of a disability.

Moreover, since Nissan allowed him to continue working on the assembly line while denying him a transfer to the “preferred job,” it clearly did not perceive him as having a substantial impairment that limited his ability to work. Since Booth failed to present evidence of his disability beyond his work restrictions, his discrimination claim based on the refusal to transfer him failed.

Booth also alleged that Nissan failed to accommodate his disability after it modified the assembly line jobs to include two new tasks.  A failure to accommodate claim must be based on “direct” not circumstantial evidence.

To prove his failure to accommodate claim, Booth again had to first show he has a disability, which he cannot as explained above. Setting this aside, Booth remained in his assembly line job (requiring him to perform only the two original tasks) until his restrictions were reviewed by a physician. Those restrictions were modified and he was able to perform the assembly line job as it had evolved. Booth, in fact, had testified that he did not disagree with the modified restrictions.

The court noted that it would have been a closer case if Booth had argued in his brief that Nissan “perceived” him as having a disability when it “warned” him that Nissan might not have a job available for him unless the restrictions were modified, but he failed to make that argument to the appellate court.  Perhaps Booth will next bring a claim against his attorney.

This is an all-around great ADA case.  It makes clear that a charge filed at the EEOC must be brought within 180 days, not 300 days as applicable to charges initiated at the state agency. The court also clearly required “direct” evidence to support a failure to accommodate claim, which is often overlooked. It also reminds us that just because the employee has work restrictions, that does not necessarily mean the employee has a disability that needs to be accommodated under the ADA (although I don’t know that the EEOC’s office in Detroit would agree).  However, before any employer makes that decision, it should consult with an experienced employment attorney, such as the author.

This article was written by Claudia D. Orr, who is Secretary of the Board of Detroit SHRM, a member of the Legal Affairs Committee, and an experienced labor/employment attorney at the Detroit office of Plunkett Cooney (a full service law firm and resource partner of Detroit SHRM) and an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association. She can be reached at or at (313) 983-4863. For further information go to:

Detroit SHRM encourages members to share these articles with others, inside and outside their organization, as long as its name and logo, and the author’s information, is included in the re-post of the article. July 2019.

2018 Dennis Malecki Joins Plunkett Cooney’s Motor Vehicle Liability Group

Plunkett Cooney


By: Plunkett Cooney


DATE:  December 11, 2018
CONTACT:  John E. Cornwell (248) 901-4008


Malecki joins Plunkett Cooney’s Transportation Law Practice Group



BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. – December 11, 2018 – Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms, recently expanded its motor vehicle liability practice with the addition of attorney Dennis J. Malecki.

Malecki is a member of the firm’s Transportation Law Practice group, which is focused on the defense of litigation involving first- and third-party auto and trucking liability claims. A member of Plunkett Cooney’s Grand Rapids office, he focuses his practice on insurance-related claims involving no-fault law and motor vehicle negligence.

In addition, Malecki has experience representing clients in the areas of family law, corporate law, criminal law and real estate law.

Admitted to practice in Michigan, Malecki received his law and undergraduate degrees from Michigan State University in 2015 and 2008, respectively.

Plunkett Cooney’s motor vehicle liability practice includes the states of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and extends to the resolution of cross-border claims stemming from disputes in Canada. The firm’s attorneys serve as panel counsel to some of the largest insurance providers in the world, including in the areas of motor vehicle liability, fraudulent claims, no-fault law and trucking liability.

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney is a leading provider of transactional and litigation services to clients in the private and public sectors. The firm employs approximately 150 attorneys in eight Michigan cities, Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. Plunkett Cooney has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, a leading, international directory of law firms. Fortune magazine has also named Plunkett Cooney among the top commercial firms in the United States. In addition, the firm was recently selected by Crain’s Detroit Business as its inaugural Law Firm of the Year winner.

For more information about attorney Dennis Malecki joining Plunkett Cooney’s Transportation Law Practice Group, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008 or

– End –

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News: Amerisure and Sterling Insurance Group Forge a New Partnership

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By: Sterling Insurance Group


Sterling Insurance Group is proud to announce its Amerisure appointment!

Sterling Insurance Group and Amerisure Mutual Insurance Company are excited to announce the agency’s recent appointment into the highly exclusive Partners For Success® (PFS) program. PFS agencies represent only one half of one percent of the 38,000 independent property and casualty brokers currently operating in the United States.

Located in Sterling Heights, Michigan, in its twenty plus years, the agency has grown into a significant Metro-Detroit company.  With its large book of business in the manufacturing, construction and wholesale markets, Sterling Insurance Group is well positioned to capitalize on this new partnership as their industry expertise aligns directly with Amerisure’s.

“It is an honor to join this elite group of agencies,” said Joe Haney, President and Principal of Sterling Insurance Group. “Our organization prides itself on delivering exceptional service — and is committed to helping our commercial clients realize greater business success through risk management. This partnership with Amerisure is based on our shared desire to deliver insurance solutions and superior service to our mutual customers.”

About Amerisure Insurance
Amerisure Mutual Insurance Company is an insurance organization charged with creating exceptional value for its Partners For Success® agencies and policyholders. As an A-rated (Excellent) property and casualty insurance company licensed in 50 states, Amerisure provides a comprehensive line of insurance products to protect businesses focused in construction, manufacturing and healthcare through strategically located Core Service Centers. For more information, visit

About Sterling Insurance Group

Since its inception in 1996, Sterling has been one of the fastest growing independent insurance agencies in the country. Sterling Insurance Group – which is a Top 200 Firm out of 37,000 nationwide – is a full-service brokerage in Sterling Heights and Detroit with more than 100 employees and over $350M in projected premiums. We’re your resource for Outsourced Risk Management, Commercial Insurance, Personal Lines Insurance and Employee Benefits. Sterling Insurance Group has relationships with more than 100 national insurance carriers to provide clients instant access to the most competitive insurance markets in the business. Sterling has been honored to receive distinguished awards for our sales leadership and customer service. The Detroit Free Press has named Sterling one of the Top Work Places from 2012-2016, and Sterling was voted a Crain’s Detroit Cool Place to Work by its employees in 2017. Learn more at

News: Amerisure and Sterling Insurance Group Forge a New Partnership. Contact us to learn how we can put Amerisure to work for your business today.







Coordinating the CBA Grievance and the EEOC Charge *

By: Claudia D. Orr

What happens when an employee has a grievance under the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) and files a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) because she feels the employment action at issue was discriminatory?

Let’s look at the CBA at issue and what happened in Watford v Jefferson County Public Schools, a 2:1 decision, hot off the press from the federal Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  It is important to pay attention to this case, especially if you have a CBA, because this is the federal appellate court that hears the appeals from federal courts in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

A CBA was negotiated between the Jefferson County Board of Education and the Jefferson County Teachers Association (the union).  As with most CBAs, it contained a grievance procedure.  This one begins with a discussion with the immediate supervisor or appropriate administrator and culminates with an appeal to the school superintendent followed by arbitration.

Significantly, the CBA also provides that “[t]he Association and the aggrieved party will be required to exhaust this Grievance Procedure including arbitration before seeking alternative remedies, provided that by doing so they will not be deemed to have waived or otherwise prejudiced any constitutional, statutory, or other legal rights that they may have.”  It also states that,“[i]f the employee opts to pursue a complaint using another agency, the parties agree to hold the grievance in abeyance until the agency complaint is resolved.”

On October 13, 2010, the day she was terminated, Plaintiff Watford filed a grievance under the CBA.  On February 24, 2011, she initiated a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. While, Watford’s grievance concerning the termination had been tentatively scheduled for arbitration to begin in July 2011, it was held in abeyance because of the EEOC charge.

Watford, disappointed that the arbitration did not occur as scheduled, filed a second EEOC charge claiming the arbitration had been held in abeyance in retaliation for filing her initial charge.  A year later, the EEOC issued a finding of cause (i.e., that it believes Title VII was violated) on the retaliation charge and, several months later in January 2013, the EEOC issued the Notice of Right to Sue letter and dismissed the original charge.

Arbitration of the union grievance was rescheduled because the EEOC had completed its processing of the charges.  But on April 24, 2013, the second day of the arbitration hearing, Watford filed her lawsuit in federal court alleging violations of Title VII. In response, the Board of Education asked the arbitrator to adjourn the arbitration until the federal lawsuit was resolved.  The arbitrator granted the request under the terms of the CBA quoted above.

Of course, this triggered another retaliation charge at the EEOC by Watford on October 25, this time against the Board of Education.  The Right to Sue letter on the retaliation charge was issued December 31, 2014.

The union and the Board of Education both filed motions to dismiss the retaliation claims, arguing that holding the arbitration in abeyance was not retaliatory; indeed the CBA provided for this action.  The federal district court agreed and dismissed those claims.  A few months later, Watford stipulated to a voluntary dismissal of the remaining claims and her appeal of the court’s dismissal of the retaliation claims followed.

So, here we are, in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, nearly seven years after Watford was discharged. That is a lot of legal fees for the employer (and the union). Incidentally, the EEOC filed amicus curiae briefs with the appellate court. This tells you the interaction between this CBA grievance process and the EEOC charge is an important issue to the EEOC.

The appellate court first addressed whether the union could be held liable and found that it could.  But the more interesting, meaty issue addressed by the court was whether holding the grievance proceedings in abeyance was an “adverse” action upon which the Title VII retaliation claim could be based.  It found that it was.

Remember, an adverse action for a retaliation claim only needs to be an act that would “dissuade a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.”  The appellate court had previously ruled in EEOC v Sundance Rehabilitation Corp, 466 F3d 490, 498 (CA 6, 2006), that the termination of grievance proceedings was an adverse action. Thus, the dispositive issue for the court was “whether there is a material difference between terminating a grievance and holding it in abeyance.”

The court found that there was not because both actions made “the availability of remedies contingent on not filing an EEOC charge. Singling out employees or union members on this basis ‘discriminate[s]’ against them because they ‘opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by’ Title VII… And ‘[a] benefit that is part and parcel of the employment relationship may not be doled out in a discriminatory fashion, even if the employer would be free…not to provide the benefit at all.’”  The court noted that the effect on an employee was “not softened merely because grievances are held in abeyance rather than terminated. Employees avail themselves of the grievance process at least in part because grievances are supposed to ‘be processed as rapidly as possible.’”

Watford’s EEOC charges had to be filed within 300 days of the employment termination.  However, a grievant (like Watford), on average, waited 399 days after initiating the grievance to receive an arbitration award.  Here, because the grievance was held in abeyance, Watford had to wait 923 days until arbitration even started. So Watford was faced with a decision: either a speedy resolution of her claims through the grievance process or file an EEOC charge.  Thus, the terms of the grievance process in the CBA, violated the anti-retaliation sections of the federal civil rights laws.

What does your CBA say about the interaction between the grievance procedure and other means of redress?  What does it say about the interaction between the CBA and the employee handbook?  These are strategic legal issues that should be discussed with an experienced labor/employment attorney, such as the author.

This article was written by Claudia D. Orr, who is Chair of the Legal Affairs Committee of Detroit SHRM, and an experienced labor/employment attorney at the Detroit office of Plunkett Cooney (a full service law firm and resource partner of Detroit SHRM).  She can be reached at or at (313) 983-4863. For further information go to:

Detroit SHRM encourages members to share these articles with others, inside and outside their organization, as long as its name and logo, and the author’s information, is included in the re-post of the article. September, 2017.

Complimentary Legal HR Lunch & Learn at The Capital Grille

Ultimate Software
Ultimate Software & Maddin Hauser are hosting a complimentary Lunch & Learn for HR professionals on Wednesday, May 17th at 11:30 am at The Capital Grille in Troy. HR professionals are invited to join from across the area.

James Reid of Maddin Hauser will speak on “Navigating Employment Landmines and Anticipated Changes Under Trump Administration.” The lunch is pre-approved for 1 SHRM credit.

There will also be a brief intro to Ultimate Software. Ultimate is a unified HCM, including HR, payroll, benefits, talent acquisition, surveys, performance, full reporting, and dedicated account manager.

Lunch will be provided, but due to space limitations, please RSVP by Wednesday, May 10th.

If you are interested or want to RSPV, please contact Christie Piper Hecht at 248.229.5125 or

Medical Resident Can Sue for Sexual Harassment Under Title IX

By Karen L. Piper

Jane Doe was accepted into the medical residency program at Mercy Catholic Medical Center, which is affiliated with Drexel University’s College of Medicine, in fall 2011.  As required by the residency program, Doe attended morning lectures and afternoon case presentations, attended a mandatory physics class, attended monthly lectures and sat for annual examinations to assess her progress and competence.

Doe complained several times that the director of the residency program sexually harassed her and retaliated against her for complaining about his behavior.  When she complained to Human Resources, she was referred to a psychiatrist.  In April 2013, Doe complained again and again was referred to a psychiatrist.  The psychiatrist told Doe that all of the other residents loved the director and Doe should apologize to him.  Doe did, but the director said it was not sincere.  He recommended that she be terminated from the residency program and she was.

Exactly two years later, in April 2015, Doe sued the Medical Center in federal district court under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex by an education program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.  The district court dismissed the case because it considered Doe an employee, and she should have sued under Title VII after filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) reversed.  It agreed that Doe was an employee but ruled she was not limited to Title VII remedies.  Doe also could sue under Title IX because the medical residency program was an education program or activity that received federal financial assistance in the form of Medicare payments.  The Third Circuit reinstated her retaliation and quid pro quo sexual harassment claims because Doe was dismissed from the residency program within two years before she filed suit.  Doe’s hostile environment claim was time-barred because the alleged harassment did not occur within two years before she filed suit. Doe v Mercy Catholic Medical Center (3rd Cir. March 7, 2017).

The Third Circuit’s decision, in this case, is consistent with decisions in the First Circuit, Sixth Circuit (covering Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee) and Fourth Circuit but contrary to decisions in the Fifth and Seventh Circuits, which have ruled that Title VII is a medical resident’s exclusive remedy.  As a result of the split of opinions, this case may be headed to the United State Supreme Court.

This case involved a hospital residency program.  However, the opportunity to sue an employer without exhausting the EEOC’s administrative remedies could be extended to all educational institutions which receive federal financial assistance, e.g., colleges and universities.  For further information, consult an experienced employment attorney, such as the author.

This article was written by Karen L. Piper, who is Secretary of the Board of Detroit SHRM, a member of the Legal Affairs Committee, and a Member of Bodman PLC, which represents employers, only, in Workplace Law. Ms. Piper can be reached at Bodman’s Troy office at (248) 743-6025 or For further information, go to:

Detroit SHRM encourages members to share these articles with others, inside and outside their organization, as long as its name and logo, and the author’s information is included in the re-post of the article. April 2017.

QuadWest Seminar Highlights Trump Administration from a Human Resource Perspective


QuadWest Associates, a human resources management firm serving companies in Southeast Michigan, today announced the availability of a recorded webcast that featured President and founder Susan West and Equity Partner James M. Reid IV, of Maddin Hauser Roth & Heller, PC. The session is devoted to how human resource professionals should approach the workplace in light of the Trump administration’s priorities and approaches to regulations governing business conduct.

Topics covered in this informative, hour-long webinar include the status of various government initiatives that impact workplace legislation and enforcement:

  • Overtime and the current administration’s regulatory freeze
  • Immigration and the H-1B visa program
  • ACA repeal and replace
  • Employment discrimination: increasing state and local ordinances

The session is an officially sanctioned educational opportunity and qualifies for 1.5 professional development credits for SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certification.

“This informative session with attorney James M. Reid IV is designed to guide HR professionals in the changing workplace environment,” stated QuadWest President and Founder Susan E. West, SPHR, SHRM-SCP. “Business will continue as the new administration determines its approach to regulations and legislation as it relates to the workplace. HR professionals, in particular, want to ensure their companies are in compliance with the spirit and letter of the law.”

Access the webcast here.

About QuadWest Associates
Founded in 2004, QuadWest is a management consulting firm with a passion for uplifting Human Resource functions within small to mid-sized companies. Our team of professionally trained HR Business Partners supports a company’s success by providing strategically-focused, practical HR management guidance. We specialize in business-driven HR consulting services, onsite and offsite, in the areas of HR operations set-up, employee relations, training, performance management, compliance/risk management, leadership development/coaching, recruiting and workplace investigations. Our success stems from our commitment to providing clients with the right HR services that meet their needs, calling on the breadth and depth of our talented team’s HR expertise.

For more information, please go to