Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – May 24, 2024

1.Michigan Supreme Court Endorses Third-Party Retaliation Claims

On May 10, 2024, in Miller v. Dep’t of Corrections, the Michigan Supreme Court endorsed third-party retaliation claims under the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act. This decision aligns Michigan with the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision covers third-party retaliation claims, even though the statute does not explicitly recognize such a theory.

Why it Matters: This ruling significantly expands the potential number of retaliation claimants to include third parties. As a result, employers in Michigan may face an increased number of retaliation claims. The exact parameters of what constitutes a sufficient connection for these claims will need to be clarified by lower courts in future cases.

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2.DEA Recommends Cannabis Rescheduling: Developments and Implications for the Industry

The industry may soon experience a major shift, as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) moves to reschedule cannabis to Schedule III. This decision follows a recommendation from the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), which is supported by scientific evidence reviewed by the FDA.

Why it Matters: The expected rescheduling of cannabis to Schedule III will have notable implications for cannabis businesses. The removal of cannabis from I.R.C. Section 280E will provide significant tax relief for state-legal cannabis operators, and the possibility of increased banking access could enhance the industry’s financial stability and growth potential. Nevertheless, cannabis companies will continue to face certain limitations stemming from the persistent federal prohibition of cannabis. Read more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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3.Michigan CRA Publishes April ’24 Data: Average Price Decreases

Per data released by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA), the average retail price for adult-use sale of an ounce of cannabis in April was $86.61, a decrease from $90.70 in March. This is a decrease from April 2023, where the average price was $87.76.

Why it Matters: While the prices of cannabis and cannabis-related products continue to decrease and make consumers happy, growers on the other hand are seeing profits decrease resulting in them seeking ways to halt new licenses to be granted in an effort to steady prices.

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4.June Business Education Series

Most entrepreneurs and business leaders face similar frustrations – employee conflicts, lack of sales, profit woes and inadequate growth. Decisions never seem to get made, or, once made, they fail to be properly implemented. There is a solution, and it is not complicated or theoretical.

Why it Matters: The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is a practical method for achieving the business success you have always envisioned. More than 100,000 companies have discovered what EOS can do. Learn more and to register.

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5.Fraser Trebilcock’s Growth Continues with Grand Rapids Office Relocation

Fraser Trebilcock Davis Dunlap & Cavanaugh, P.C., one of Michigan’s well established law firms with a history of providing excellent legal services, is pleased to announce it has relocated its Grand Rapids office. This move is a testament to the firm’s continued ability in taking a proactive approach in providing comprehensive legal solutions across a wide range of practice areas, helping clients capitalize on potential opportunities.

Why it Matters: In late April, Fraser Trebilcock’s Grand Rapids office moved to 300 Ottawa NW Suite 810, located within walking distance of all downtown restaurants, entertainment venues, museums, municipal buildings, and the Medical Mile. The office offers the full range of the firm’s legal services, including litigation, business, tax, real estate, trusts and estates, and other areas of specialty. Clients can expect the same level of professionalism and personalized attention that Fraser Trebilcock is known for. Read more.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston

Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – May 10, 2024

  1. Fraser Trebilcock’s Growth Continues With Grand Rapids Office Relocation

Fraser Trebilcock Davis Dunlap & Cavanaugh, P.C., one of Michigan’s well established law firms with a history of providing excellent legal services, is pleased to announce it has relocated its Grand Rapids office. This move is a testament to the firm’s continued ability in taking a proactive approach in providing comprehensive legal solutions across a wide range of practice areas, helping clients capitalize on potential opportunities.

Why it Matters: In late April, Fraser Trebilcock’s Grand Rapids office moved to 300 Ottawa NW Suite 810, located within walking distance of all downtown restaurants, entertainment venues, museums, municipal buildings, and the Medical Mile. The office offers the full range of the firm’s legal services, including litigation, business, tax, real estate, trusts and estates, and other areas of specialty. Clients can expect the same level of professionalism and personalized attention that Fraser Trebilcock is known for. Read more.

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  1. DOL Finalizes Rule to Raise Overtime Salary Threshold

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced a final rule that will significantly increase the annual salary threshold required to classify employees as exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The rule will raise the minimum salary requirement in two stages, from the current level of $35,568 per year to $43,888 per year on July 1, 2024, and then to $58,656 per year on January 1, 2025, with recalculations every three years thereafter.

Why it Matters: The DOL estimates that the rule will impact approximately 1 million employees initially and another 3 million employees after the second salary increase. Employers must now decide whether to increase salaries to maintain exempt status for affected employees or reclassify them as non-exempt workers entitled to overtime pay, considering factors such as overtime hours worked, labor costs, and administrative burdens.

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  1. CRA Issues Bulletin Regarding THCA

The Cannabis Regulatory Agency recently issued a bulletin to answer questions regarding tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (“THCA”), its status, and how businesses in the state can obtain and possess THCA.

Why it Matters: THCA is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that is converted into THC when it goes through the process of decarboxylation (increasing temperature between 200-290 degrees). Under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, THCA is included in the definition of THC. Licensees can obtain and sell marijuana that contains THCA, and they are allowed to convert THCA into THC as long as they abide by state laws under the MRTMA.

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  1. June Business Education Series

Most entrepreneurs and business leaders face similar frustrations – employee conflicts, lack of sales, profit woes and inadequate growth. Decisions never seem to get made, or, once made, they fail to be properly implemented. There is a solution, and it is not complicated or theoretical.

Why it Matters: The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is a practical method for achieving the business success you have always envisioned. More than 100,000 companies have discovered what EOS can do. Learn more and to register.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Attorney Robert D. Burgee Recognized as a ‘Michigan Go To Lawyer’ for Business Transactions by Michigan Lawyers Weekly

Fraser Trebilcock attorney Robert D. Burgee has been recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a ‘Michigan Go To Lawyer’ in 2024 for business transactions. “I am honored to have been recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a ‘Michigan Go To Lawyer’ for business transactions,” said Bob.

Why it Matters: Mr. Burgee serves as Co-Chair of the firm’s Business & Tax Department and Chair of the firm’s Employee Benefits Department. He has over a decade of experience assisting business clients and entrepreneurs with startups, acquisitions, succession, and growth planning, as well as more general legal guidance, including navigating civil matters, regulatory compliance, employee benefits, and human relations. Read more.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Business & Tax | Robert Burgee

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – May 3, 2024

  1. Michigan CRA Plans to Open State-Run Testing Laboratory

Crain’s Detroit Business reported this week that Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency plans to open a new testing lab by January of next year in order to promote and enforce safety standards. While funds have been allocated for the establishment and operation of a testing lab, CRA regulators reportedly are asking Michigan legislators to pass a bill that would give the agency more explicit authority to take this action.

Why it Matters: Having an independent, state-run lab would, according to regulators, help establish trust in products and root out potential corruption in the legal cannabis industry.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Attorney Robert D. Burgee Recognized as a ‘Michigan Go To Lawyer’ for Business Transactions by Michigan Lawyers Weekly

Fraser Trebilcock attorney Robert D. Burgee has been recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a ‘Michigan Go To Lawyer’ in 2024 for business transactions. “I am honored to have been recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a ‘Michigan Go To Lawyer’ for business transactions,” said Bob.

Why it Matters: Mr. Burgee serves as Co-Chair of the firm’s Business & Tax Department and Chair of the firm’s Employee Benefits Department. He has over a decade of experience assisting business clients and entrepreneurs with startups, acquisitions, succession, and growth planning, as well as more general legal guidance, including navigating civil matters, regulatory compliance, employee benefits, and human relations. Read more.

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  1. June Business Education Series

Most entrepreneurs and business leaders face similar frustrations – employee conflicts, lack of sales, profit woes and inadequate growth. Decisions never seem to get made, or, once made, they fail to be properly implemented. There is a solution, and it is not complicated or theoretical.

Why it Matters: The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is a practical method for achieving the business success you have always envisioned. More than 100,000 companies have discovered what EOS can do. Learn more and to register.

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  1. Marijuana to be Rescheduled by DEA

It was announced this week that the DEA is planning to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug, following a recommendation from the Health and Human Services Department.

Why it Matters: While this move is still subject for review by the White House Office of Management and Budget, this clears a significant regulatory hurdle. Marijuana will still not be legal on the federal level for recreational use following this reclassification.

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  1. FTC Issues Final Rule Banning Non-Compete Agreements Nationwide

On April 23, 2024, in a 3-2 vote, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a final rule banning non-compete clauses in most employment agreements nationwide. The rule is scheduled to go into effect 120 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

Why it Matters: Under the final rule, “Non-compete clause” is defined as “a term or condition of employment that prohibits a worker from, penalizes a worker for, or functions to prevent a worker from: (i) seeking or accepting work in the United States with a different person where such work would begin after the conclusion of the employment that includes the term or condition; or (ii) operating a business in the United States after the conclusion of the employment that includes the term or condition.” Read more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorneys.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Business & Tax | Robert Burgee
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Business & Tax | Andrew Martin

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – April 26, 2024

  1. FTC Issues Final Rule Banning Non-Compete Agreements Nationwide

On April 23, 2024, in a 3-2 vote, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a final rule banning non-compete clauses in most employment agreements nationwide. The rule is scheduled to go into effect 120 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

Why it Matters: Under the final rule, “Non-compete clause” is defined as “a term or condition of employment that prohibits a worker from, penalizes a worker for, or functions to prevent a worker from: (i) seeking or accepting work in the United States with a different person where such work would begin after the conclusion of the employment that includes the term or condition; or (ii) operating a business in the United States after the conclusion of the employment that includes the term or condition.” Read more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorneys.

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  1. State and Local Governments Subject to ADA Website Rules

On April 23, 2024, in a 3-2 vote, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a final rule banning non-compete clauses in most employment agreements nationwide. The rule is scheduled to go into effect 120 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

Why it Matters: While staffing at many schools has grown due to pandemic relief funding, student enrollment has dwindled. This report comes on the heels of another report – this one from the Michigan Center for Data and Analytics – projecting the state population could decline by nearly 700,000 residents by 2050.

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  1. Michigan 04/20 Sales Hits All-Time High

Per data from Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency, sales of cannabis topped $28.5 million on April 20, 2024, an increase from the reported $21.6 million in sales from the year prior.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with. Contact our cannabis law attorneys if you have any questions.

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  1. The Limitations of Federal Bankruptcy Law for Marijuana Businesses

Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I drug, making it illegal at the federal level. This creates a unique challenge for marijuana businesses operating legally within their state’s framework, as they are unable to avail themselves of federal bankruptcy protection.

Why it Matters: Federal bankruptcy courts have been reluctant to provide relief to debtors engaged in activities that are illegal under federal law, even if those activities are legal under state law. As a result, marijuana businesses are often left without the benefits of bankruptcy protection, such as the automatic stay, discharge of debts, and court-supervised reorganization.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Attorney Secures Victory for Firm Client

Fraser Trebilcock attorney Andrew J. Moore was successful in obtaining summary disposition on behalf of the firm’s client. Plaintiff and their spouse applied for credit life insurance from the firm’s client, a prominent independent insurance company, in conjunction with an RV they purchased.

Why it Matters: The spouse misrepresented their medical history and was in fact diagnosed with and treating for a disqualifying medical condition. The spouse died of heart attack two months after purchase. The firm’s client rescinded the credit certificate, then was sued. Plaintiff claimed RV salesman misrepresented application, eligibility, insurability, and coverage limits, while simultaneously claiming RV salesman was an “agent” of the firm’s client such that they should be held liable for their misrepresentation. After discovery and at summary disposition, the Judge ruled in favor of the firm’s client and dismissed all counts. Learn more.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Business & Tax | Robert Burgee
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Business & Tax | Andrew Martin
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Insurance Law | Andrew Moore

FTC Issues Final Rule Banning Non-Compete Agreements Nationwide

On April 23, 2024, in a 3-2 vote, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a final rule banning non-compete clauses in most employment agreements nationwide. The rule is scheduled to go into effect 120 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The FTC’s vote on the final rule comes over a year after it published a proposed rule on January 5, 2023.

Under the final rule, “Non-compete clause” is defined as “a term or condition of employment that prohibits a worker from, penalizes a worker for, or functions to prevent a worker from: (i) seeking or accepting work in the United States with a different person where such work would begin after the conclusion of the employment that includes the term or condition; or (ii) operating a business in the United States after the conclusion of the employment that includes the term or condition.”

The final rule covers all entities subject to the FTC Act (generally, most for-profit entities, but not non-profit organizations).

Some of the key elements of the final rule include:

    • Starting from the effective date, the ban prohibits all new post-employment non-compete agreements between employers and employees across all industries and worker types, including both senior executives and lower-level employees. It does not apply to agreements prohibiting an employee from competing against an employer while employed
    • Post-employment non-compete agreements that are already in place may continue to be enforced, but only for senior executives. The definition of a senior executive is generally an employee who holds a policy-making position and earns an annual salary exceeding $151,164.
      • Policy-making position is defined in part as “a business entity’s president, chief executive officer or the equivalent, any other officer of a business entity who has policy-making authority, or any other natural person who has policy-making authority for the business entity similar to an officer with policy-making authority.”
    • While employers are not obligated to formally rescind existing non-compete agreements, they are required to notify employees that post-employment non-compete agreements are no longer enforceable.
    • The ban makes an exception for non-compete agreements related to the sale of a business, regardless of the ownership percentage involved in the transaction.
    • The ban does not apply to contracts between franchisees and franchisors. However, it does apply to employees working for either a franchisee or a franchisor.

While the rulemaking may be a new step for the FTC, its purpose is in step with the Agency’s recent decisions; an example of which was included in the press release announcing the proposed rule, “This [rulemaking] aligns with the FTC’s recent statement to reinvigorate Section 5 of the FTC Act, which bans unfair methods of competition. The FTC recently used its Section 5 authority to ban companies from imposing onerous noncompetes on their workers. In one complaint, the FTC took action against a Michigan-based security guard company and its key executives for using coercive noncompetes on low-wage employees.”

We anticipate that a number of legal challenges to the FTC’s authority to ban non-compete agreements will be mounted. The US Chamber of Commerce already announced that it will be filing a lawsuit. We will continue to keep you informed of new developments.

This alert serves as a general summary and does not constitute legal guidance. Please contact us with any specific questions.


Robert D. Burgee is an attorney at Fraser Trebilcock with over a decade of experience counseling clients with a focus on corporate structures and compliance, licensing, contracts, regulatory compliance, mergers and acquisitions, and a host of other matters related to the operation of small and medium-sized businesses and non-profits. You can reach him at 517.377.0848 or at bburgee@fraserlawfirm.com.


Attorney David J. HoustonFraser Trebilcock Shareholder Dave Houston has over 40 years of experience representing employers in planning, counseling, and litigating virtually all employment claims and disputes including labor relations (NLRB and MERC), wage and overtime, and employment discrimination, and negotiation of union contracts. He has authored numerous publications regarding employment issues. You can reach him at 517.377.0855 or dhouston@fraserlawfirm.com.


Andrew G. Martin is an experienced registered patent attorney with history working in the automotive, electrical, and agricultural industries. He regularly advises startups and small businesses on the patent and trademark prosecution process, assisting clients from start to finish. You can reach him at 517.377.0834 or at amartin@fraserlawfirm.com.

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – March 15, 2024

  1. Michigan Senate Passes Bill to Require Dyslexia Screening in Schools

On March 12, the Michigan Senate overwhelmingly (37-1) passed a bill that would require schools to screen all students for signs of dyslexia. It would also require programs to educate prospective teachers on dyslexia’s characteristics.

Why it Matters: This bill is part of a larger effort to improve reading in Michigan. In spring 2023, one-third of Michigan third grade students scored not-proficient in reading.

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  1. Michael E. Cavanaugh Selected as a Member of Michigan Lawyers Weekly “Hall of Fame Class of 2024”

Fraser Trebilcock attorney Michael E. Cavanaugh has been selected as a member of Michigan Lawyers Weekly “Hall of Fame Class of 2024.” This special award recognizes esteemed members of the legal profession who have been in practice for at least 30 years. “I am extremely honored to be recognized by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a member of their Hall of Fame Class of 2024,” said Mr. Cavanaugh.

Why it Matters: Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s annual “Hall of Fame” award recognizes Michigan’s legal leaders who have been in practice for 30 years, highlighting their successful careers and valuable contributions to the community. These legendary lawyers have made their mark, either in the courtroom or the boardroom, in their law firms or legal departments, with community organizations, and with local, state and national bar associations. Read more.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Attorneys Secure Summary Disposition for Firm Client

Fraser Trebilcock attorneys Danielle Lofton and Gary C. Rogers have obtained summary disposition and dismissal of a lawsuit in favor of the firm’s client in a personal injury case pending before the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court.

Why it Matters: Attorney Lofton successfully argued the motion, convincing the trial court that the plaintiff’s injuries did not rise to the level of serious impairment of body function, following mediation in which the plaintiff, who was represented by a prominent plaintiff’s personal injury firm, rejected the settlement recommended by a mediator, and wanted to proceed to trial before a jury. Instead of accepting the mediator’s recommended settlement amount, the plaintiff will now receive nothing. Learn more.

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  1. Can an Out-of-State Patent Attorney Represent Me?

Securing a patent for an innovative idea involves maneuvering through a complex, multifaceted process. And having the right guide—patent legal counsel—is an essential part of the process. A common misconception is that a party hoping to secure a patent must turn to a local attorney for help. This belief, while understandable considering that many legal matters require local expertise and licensing, overlooks the dynamics of how things work with patent law.

Why it Matters: The truth is, in the digital age, the geographical location of your patent attorney matters less than their expertise, experience, and ability to navigate the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (“USPTO”) requirements. Learn more from attorney Andrew Martin.

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  1. Corporate Transparency Act ‘Unconstitutional’ says Federal District Judge

A U.S. District Court in Alabama has determined that Congress overstepped its constitutional authority in passing the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”) (see National Small Business United v. Yellen, No. 5:22-cv-01448 (N.D. Ala.)). The CTA requires the disclosure of the Beneficial Ownership Information (“BOI”) of millions of American corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities.

Why it Matters: In the wake of this decision, FinCEN seems to have accepted the decision but only insofar as it affects its enforcement of the CTA against the named plaintiffs. The reporting obligations for the remaining 30 million or so entities is unchanged. Time will tell if FinCEN will appeal the decision and/or how it will deal with the seemingly inevitable series of similar cases that will start filling up courts across the country. Read more from attorney Bob Burgee.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | Michael E. Cavanaugh
Insurance Law | Danielle Lofton
Insurance Law | Gary Rogers
Intellectual Property | Andrew Martin
Business & Tax | Robert Burgee

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – March 8, 2024

  1. CDC Says Five Days Isolation No Longer Necessary for COVID-19

The CDC recently updated its COVID-19 guidelines, stating that Americans who test positive for COVID-19 no longer need to stay in isolation for five days. The new guidelines provide that that people can return to work or regular activities if their symptoms are mild and improving and it’s been a day since they’ve had a fever.

Why it Matters: The change will impact COVID-19-related policies of employers who still adhere to CDC guidance for their return-to-work rules.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Adds Cavanaugh to Firm Name

Law firm Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C. is pleased to announce that its legal name has been changed to Fraser Trebilcock Davis Dunlap & Cavanaugh, P.C. This name change reflects the addition of the surname of member Michael E. Cavanaugh, in recognition of his long tenure and significant contributions to the firm. The firm’s trade name will continue to be Fraser Trebilcock.

Why it Matters: Mr. Cavanaugh’s list of accolades is as long as it is well-deserved. Perhaps at the very top, is recognition of his leadership in the Lansing legal community. Mike has been a trusted member of Fraser Trebilcock’s Board of Directors, and he is heavily involved in the State Bar of Michigan and the Ingham County Bar Association, for which he has served as a past-president. Read more.

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  1. Corporate Transparency Act ‘Unconstitutional’ says Federal District Judge

A U.S. District Court in Alabama has determined that Congress overstepped its constitutional authority in passing the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”) (see National Small Business United v. Yellen, No. 5:22-cv-01448 (N.D. Ala.)). The CTA requires the disclosure of the Beneficial Ownership Information (“BOI”) of millions of American corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities.

Why it Matters: In the wake of this decision, FinCEN seems to have accepted the decision but only insofar as it affects its enforcement of the CTA against the named plaintiffs. The reporting obligations for the remaining 30 million or so entities is unchanged. Time will tell if FinCEN will appeal the decision and/or how it will deal with the seemingly inevitable series of similar cases that will start filling up courts across the country. Read more from attorney Bob Burgee.

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  1. A Health Professional’s Guide to Navigating the Disciplinary Process: What to Expect if You Are Facing a Professional Licensing Investigation or Administrative Complaint

Health professionals are committed to caring for patients with expertise, compassion, and integrity. However, in the heavily regulated healthcare field, those professionals can sometimes find themselves navigating not just the medical challenges of their patients but licensing issues of their own as well. Licensing issues can arise unexpectedly, and, when they do, they can cause tremendous stress and uncertainty.

Why it Matters: As an attorney with years of experience handling professional licensing matters for health professionals, Robert J. Andretz has witnessed firsthand how professional licensing investigations and Administrative Complaints can disrupt health professionals’ careers and their ability to provide patient care. He will explore how to navigate the disciplinary process in Michigan so that you can know what to expect if you are ever faced with a threat to your license. Learn more.

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  1. Navigating the Cost and Process of Hiring a Trademark Attorney

In the fast-paced world of business, protecting your brand is paramount. Whether you’re a startup or a large corporation, safeguarding your trademarks is essential for maintaining your identity and reputation in the market. However, navigating the legal intricacies of trademark registration and enforcement can be complex and overwhelming. This is where a skilled trademark attorney can be your greatest ally.

Why it Matters: Without adequate protection, your trademarks are vulnerable to infringement, dilution, and misappropriation, which can result in lost revenue, brand erosion, and legal disputes. By securing federal trademark registration and enforcing your rights, you establish a legal foundation that empowers you to safeguard your brand and its value. Read more from attorney Andrew G. Martin.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | Michael E. Cavanaugh
Business & Tax | Robert Burgee
Professional Licensing | Robert Andretz
Intellectual Property | Andrew Martin

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – March 1, 2024

  1. Growing Marijuana in Michigan – No Matter the Amount – is a Misdemeanor

Late last week, the Michigan State Police shut down an illegal marijuana growing facility in Highland Park, seizing 4,000 marijuana plants and processed weed worth $6.3 million. It may surprise readers to know that, pursuant to a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling in October, 2023, the unlicensed growers may only face misdemeanor charges. In another case involving an illegal growing operation, the court ruled that violations that previously were subject to felony punishments should now be prosecuted under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act (the “Act”).

Why it Matters: Under the Act, it’s legal to store up to 10 ounces of marijuana, possess 2.5 ounces and grow up to 12 plants. Violations for exceeding those amounts range from civil infractions to misdemeanors. It will be interesting to see if these provisions will be revisited given that black market sales have been blamed for increased competition and falling prices for legal sales.

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  1. Navigating the Cost and Process of Hiring a Trademark Attorney

In the fast-paced world of business, protecting your brand is paramount. Whether you’re a startup or a large corporation, safeguarding your trademarks is essential for maintaining your identity and reputation in the market. However, navigating the legal intricacies of trademark registration and enforcement can be complex and overwhelming. This is where a skilled trademark attorney can be your greatest ally.

Why it Matters: Without adequate protection, your trademarks are vulnerable to infringement, dilution, and misappropriation, which can result in lost revenue, brand erosion, and legal disputes. By securing federal trademark registration and enforcing your rights, you establish a legal foundation that empowers you to safeguard your brand and its value. Read more from attorney Andrew G. Martin.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Attorney Michael E. Cavanaugh Named in Michigan Lawyers Weekly Class of 2024 Hall of Fame

Fraser Trebilcock attorney Michael E. Cavanaugh has been selected as a member of Michigan Lawyers Weekly “Hall of Fame Class of 2024.” This special award recognizes esteemed members of the legal profession who have been in practice for at least 30 years.

Why it Matters: Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s annual “Hall of Fame” award recognizes only twenty-one lawyers each year. These lawyers truly are legends, making their mark in the courtroom or the boardroom, in their firms and with community organizations, and with local, state and national bar associations. With their guidance and mentorship, they have launched hundreds of thriving legal careers and have left an indelible imprint on the profession through precedent-setting cases, high dollar outcomes and successful resolutions for their clients.

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  1. A Health Professional’s Guide to Navigating the Disciplinary Process: What to Expect if You Are Facing a Professional Licensing Investigation or Administrative Complaint

Health professionals are committed to caring for patients with expertise, compassion, and integrity. However, in the heavily regulated healthcare field, those professionals can sometimes find themselves navigating not just the medical challenges of their patients but licensing issues of their own as well. Licensing issues can arise unexpectedly, and, when they do, they can cause tremendous stress and uncertainty.

Why it Matters: As an attorney with years of experience handling professional licensing matters for health professionals, Robert J. Andretz has witnessed firsthand how professional licensing investigations and Administrative Complaints can disrupt health professionals’ careers and their ability to provide patient care. He will explore how to navigate the disciplinary process in Michigan so that you can know what to expect if you are ever faced with a threat to your license. Learn more.

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  1. Increase in the Small Business Property Tax Exemption

Eligibility for the so-called “Small Business Property Tax Exemption” has expanded. Legislation passed last October 2023, expands the exemption by increasing the eligibility limit to from the $80,000 true cash value limit to $180,000.

Why it Matters: The exemption is only for commercial and industrial personal property (residential/individuals are not subject to personal property taxes). Once filed, and if granted, the exemption will remain as long as the small business still qualifies. In other words, there is no need to file an exemption claim every year. Read more.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Intellectual Property | Andrew Martin
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | Michael E. Cavanaugh
Professional Licensing | Robert Andretz
Business & Tax | Paul McCord

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – February 16, 2024

  1. Michigan Eliminates Pharmaceutical Company Immunity

Governor Whitmer recently signed Senate Bill 410 into law, which repeals the provision under Michigan’s Product Liability Act which granted immunity to pharmaceutical companies. A rebuttable presumption of non-liability and caps on non-economic damages remain intact.

Why it Matters: Pharmaceutical companies have had near-total immunity from product liability claims in Michigan for approximately 30 years. The law took effect on February 13, 2024.

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  1. Retroactive PPT Exemption

Some Michigan manufacturers who were not able to claim their 2021 ESA-PPT exemption due to COVID-19, have until March 14 to request approval from the State Tax Commission.

Why it Matters: The ESA is a State specific tax on personal property that is exempt from property taxes at the local level because the property meets certain eligibility requirements, such as being qualified manufacturing or industrial personal property. In order to elect out of local personal property taxes and into the ESA regime, manufacturers must file the required forms with their local assessing office by February 20th of each year. Learn more.

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  1. Michigan’s Repealed “Right-to-Work” Law Takes Effect

On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, Michigan’s repeal of the prior “right-to-work” law governing private-sector workers went into effect.

Why it Matters: The result of the repeal is that private-sector unions may permissibly negotiate to impasse, and enforce, “union security” provisions requiring membership in, or financial support through “Beck Objector” fees, of those unions. Read more.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Exceeds $242 Million in January ‘24

Cannabis sales surpassed $242 million in January, via the monthly report from the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency. Michigan adult-use sales came in at $240,289,360.60, while medical sales came in at $2,523,333.56, totaling $242,812,694.16.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with.

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  1. Client Alert/Reminder: Form W-2 Reporting Due for Employer-Provided Health Care / Disclosure Due to CMS for Medicare Part D

Unless subject to an exemption, employers must report the aggregate cost of employer-sponsored health coverage provided in 2023 on their employees’ Form W-2 (Code DD in Box 12) issued in January 2024. Please see IRS Notice 2012-09. Additionally, group health plans offering prescription drug coverage are required to disclose to all Part D-eligible individuals who are enrolled in or were seeking to enroll in the group health plan coverage whether such coverage was creditable.

Why it Matters: The filing deadline is 60 days following the first day of the plan year. If you operate a calendar year plan, the deadline is the end of February. If you operate a non-calendar year plan, please be sure to keep track of your deadline. Contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney for any questions.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Business & Tax | Paul McCord
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Employee Benefits | Bob Burgee
Employee Benefits | Sharon Goldzweig

Michigan’s Repealed “Right-to-Work” Law Takes Effect

On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, Michigan’s repeal of the prior “right-to-work” law governing private-sector workers went into effect. The result of the repeal is that private-sector unions may permissibly negotiate to impasse, and enforce, “union security” provisions requiring membership in, or financial support through “Beck Objector” fees, of those unions. See NLRB FAQ’s.

Michigan’s “Freedom to Work” law enacted under Republican Governor Rick Snyder became effective in 2013. That law prohibited public and private sector employees from being required, as a “condition of employment,” to belong to a labor union or to pay a “service fee” in lieu of membership. The 2013 law invalidated any collective bargaining provision to the contrary, and prohibited enforcement of such unlawful provisions.

In 2023, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law legislation repealing the Freedom to Work law insofar as it applies to private-sector employees. Governor Whitmer also signed a separate bill that would similarly repeal this prohibition as to public sector workers in the event the U.S. Supreme Court reverses a 2018 decision that essentially adopted similar “right-to-work” principles with respect to public sector employees and unions, which reversal has not occurred.  So, the present change does not affect the current prohibition of a membership requirement in a public sector collective bargaining agreement.

Per data collected by researchers available at unionstats.com, in 2022, close to 39,000 private sector workers in Michigan were covered by a collective bargaining agreement but were not union members paying dues or service fees. Now, those individuals may permissibly be required to pay dues or fees if “union security” provisions are bargained into, or “suspended” in, applicable collective bargaining agreements. In that event, affected employers could be required to fire bargaining unit workers who refuse to pay dues or fees under the enforcement of a lawful union security clause.

Employers with unionized workforces should anticipate attempts by unions to enforce “suspended” union security clauses or negotiate such provisions into future collective bargaining agreements, and plan accordingly. If you have questions about the new law or require assistance, please contact David J. Houston or your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

This alert serves as a general summary and does not constitute legal guidance. Please contact us with any specific questions.


Attorney David J. HoustonFraser Trebilcock Shareholder Dave Houston has over 40 years of experience representing employers in planning, counseling, and litigating virtually all employment claims and disputes including labor relations (NLRB and MERC), wage and overtime, and employment discrimination, and negotiation of union contracts. He has authored numerous publications regarding employment issues. You can reach him at 517.377.0855 or dhouston@fraserlawfirm.com.