Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – October 27, 2023

  1. EEOC Publishes Proposed Harassment Guidance

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently published its long-anticipated proposed guidance on “Enforcement Guidance of Harassment in the Workplace.” Among other things, the guidance reflects the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 Bostock decision, which extends the meaning of “sex” in Title VII to sexual orientation and gender identity; provides that sex-based discrimination includes harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, and other related medical conditions, such as conception or abortion; and addresses how electronic communication (including social media) can create a hostile work environment.

Why it Matters: The proposed guidance seeks to clarify and address uncertainties and open questions for employers. The opportunity for public comment is available until November 1, 2023.


  1. Provisional Patent Application Overview

While deciding whether to file a patent application, it is important to consider both your short- and long-term goals in view of your finances and the current state of your idea. Depending on these factors you may be deciding between filing a provisional or non-provisional application.

Why it Matters: A provisional patent application is a type of patent application that serves as a placeholder for a non-provisional patent application, providing the applicant with a priority date for their invention and a one-year window to follow up and file a non-provisional application. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.


  1. Governor Whitmer Signs Bills Permitting State and Tribal Cannabis Businesses to Engage in Commerce with Each Other

The landscape of the cannabis industry in Michigan continues to evolve as new legislative efforts in Michigan aim to bridge the operational divide between state-licensed cannabis enterprises and tribal cannabis businesses. Two pivotal bills, Senate Bill 179 and Senate Bill 180, were signed by Governor Whitmer on October 19, 2023, creating a collaborative business environment for these formerly siloed entities.

Why it Matters: Prior to the legislation being enacted, state-licensed and tribal cannabis operations in Michigan functioned independently, restrained from mutual commerce and collaboration, including prohibitions on cannabis products being sold between these businesses. The new legislation allows these two distinct parts of the cannabis industry to interact.


  1. UAW and Ford Announce Tentative Deal

It was announced earlier this week that the United Auto Workers (UAW) and Ford Motor Company reached a tentative deal.

Why it Matters: The tentative deal would give workers an immediate 11% raise, a 25% increase in wages over the next four years, a reinstatement of cost-of-living adjustments, and additional benefits.


  1. Client Update: Corporate Transparency Act Report of Beneficial Ownership Information

Pursuant to the Corporate Transparency Act of 2021, beginning on January 1, 2024, most newly formed entities will be required to report to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network information (FinCEN) about the identity of the entity’s beneficial owners and senior officers. And by the end of 2024, nearly all companies will have to report.

Why it Matters: There are roughly 1 million entities in good standing in the State of Michigan and at some time in 2024, most will need to make a beneficial ownership report to FinCEN. While there are numerous exemptions available, their application is limited to large enterprises and businesses that operate in industries that are already highly regulated. Therefore, it is important to remember that the reporting requirement will extend hundreds of thousands of entities. Learn more.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

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

Judge Denies Injunction in Michigan Executive Order Challenge

In response to the rapidly increasing outbreak of COVID-19, on March 24, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-21, directing Michigan residents to remain at their home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible. Many businesses were temporarily shut down unless deemed essential, and individuals were limited to traveling outside their homes.

On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray denied a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by several Michigan residents who claimed that the various COVID-19-related executive orders issued by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, including the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, and the related intrastate travel restrictions, infringed on their constitutional rights. Specifically, the previous executive orders issued by Governor Whitmer that required residents to stay home and restricted travel were alleged to have violated Plaintiffs’ rights to both procedural due process and substantive due process.

The Judge determined that the plaintiffs have not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits in their challenge to the executive order restrictions.

Judge Christopher Murray further noted in his opinion that, “It is true that this measure is a severe one, and greatly restricts each of our liberties to move about as we see fit, as we do in normal times. But the governor determined that severe measures were necessary, and had to be quickly implemented to prevent the uncontrolled spreading of the virus.”

This procedural denial of the request for a preliminary injunction does not resolve the overall merits of the case in question, but does give an indication of the Judge’s opinion as to the potential success of the plaintiffs in this case.

NOTE: On April 30, Governor Whitmer replaced prior orders with Executive Order 2020-69, to be in force through May 28, 2020.

We have created a response team to the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation and the law and guidance that follows, so we will continue to post any new developments. You can view our COVID-19 Response Page and additional resources by following the link here. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Governor Whitmer Orders Halt to Many Medical and Dental Services

Governor Gretchen Whitmer today signed Executive Order 2020-17, restricting non-essential medical and dental procedures in hospitals, surgery centers, clinics and medical offices. The order is wide-ranging and specific and provides examples of actions that may not be taken, and exceptions if applicable.

Many medical and dental providers have already initiated contact with patients to defer many scheduled appointments even prior to the Governor’s order, but these steps are no longer optional.

The stated purpose of the Order is “To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, protect the public health, provide essential protections to vulnerable Michiganders, and ensure the availability of health care resources, it is reasonable and necessary to impose temporary restrictions on non-essential medical and dental procedures.”

For more information regarding the Executive Order, follow the link here.

We have created a response team to the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation, and will continue to post any new developments. You can view the page and additional resources by following the link here. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.