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Longtime Crain's Detroit Business editor Jennette Smith shared her thoughts on the powerful networking opportunities surrounding the North American International Auto Show and the various parties and events surrounding them. She spoke with Miller Canfield's Mike Palizzi to get an insider's view on how valuable this type of face time is when building client relationships. You can read the whole story here.

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Miller Canfield Employment and Labor attorney Amy Zdravecky spoke recently with Grand Rapids Business Journal reporter Rachel Watson. The two discussed how the president-elect's administration may impact workers and employers, unions, overtime rules and immigration.

Read the full story here.

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The North American International Auto Show is welcoming thousands of journalists and industry executives to town next week, and Jan. 14-22, some 800,000 car enthusiasts will flock to Cobo Center to get a sneak peek at what’s new and exciting in the industry.

It’s one of the most important annual events in the automotive industry. We’re expecting more than 40 reveals from car makers from around the world. The prestige, the flashy reveals and the futuristic concept cars make NAIAS the place to connect … and to impress.

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As the year 2016 comes to a close, many of us are reflecting on what has been a year of ups and downs, challenges and opportunities. As I look back on the year, a few things stand out and make me feel especially proud of my colleagues and my firm and the ways we’ve grown this year and the many ways we have supported our clients, our communities and each other. Among them:

They are generous. The staff and attorneys I work with are some of the most giving people I know. Whether they are contributing money to support worthy charitable causes, or giving of their time through pro bono work and volunteerism, my colleagues never fail to make me proud. This year alone, the firm contributed more than $1.8 million and thousands of volunteer hours to endeavors that promote the greater good in our communities. These contributions included more than 5,000 hours of pro bono service performed by our lawyers. And Leo Goddeyne, a senior attorney in the firm’s Kalamazoo office, was recognized by the State Bar of Michigan as the recipient of the John Cummiskey Award in recognition of his outstanding service in pro bono. Finally, this year Wendy Richards joined the firm as Pro Bono Counsel, which will help our attorneys make even deeper commitments to give back in 2017 and beyond.

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Two recent client victories in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put the City of Detroit’s post-bankruptcy recovery on much firmer footing.

The first case began two years ago when some residential customers of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department filed a complaint in the City of Detroit’s bankruptcy case. They asserted the city should be forced to set water rates based on customers’ income rather than on the cost of providing the service as required by Michigan law. 

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Miller Canfield is pleased to announce that it has again been named a Client Service A-Team 2017 firm by client service ranking firm BTI Consulting.

The ranking measures service excellence based on in-depth interviews with C-level executives who revealed the most important specific activities that drive superior client relationships.

“BTI researches some 300 of the largest and best known law firms in the country,” said Miller Canfield CEO Michael McGee. “Based on hundreds of client interviews, they identify the firms that truly distinguish themselves as being the most invested in their clients’ successes and providing the most value to the client/law firm relationship.”

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated guidance on Nov. 21, 2016, regarding national origin discrimination for the first time since 2002. In 2015, 11 percent of all discrimination charges filed with the EEOC included allegations of national origin discrimination. The new guidance discusses Title VII’s prohibition against national origin discrimination and its application to all types of workplace settings, including hiring, firing, and discipline, in order to prevent employment discrimination on the basis of national origin.

The EEOC update reminds employers of several important employment practices. First, all foreign nationals who are legally working within the United States are protected by Title VII, regardless of their citizenship status and have standing to bring a Title VII discrimination claim. Further, national origin discrimination may also exist in the form of an “association” claim, (where an employer treats an employee less favorably because the employee associates with someone of a particular national origin) or a “perceived as” claim, (where the employer intends to treat an employee differently because of what it believes the employee’s national origin to be, even if that belief is ultimately incorrect.) For more on the EEOC guidance, click here.

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Just eight days before the Dec. 1, 2016, effective date, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas entered a nationwide injunction prohibiting the U.S. Department of Labor from enforcing the recent regulatory changes issued pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The DOL had previously published a proposed Notice of Rulemaking and, thereafter, a Final Rule which, as of Dec. 1, would have raised the minimum salary level for exempt employees from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $913 per week ($47,476 annually).  In addition, the Final Rule would have established an automatic updating mechanism that would have adjusted the minimum salary level every three years; the first automatic increase was scheduled to occur on Jan. 1, 2020.

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Poland’s Ministry of Finance published a draft bill which would authorize the establishment and operation of Polish Real Estate Investment Trusts (Spółki Rynku Wynajmu Nieruchomości) in Poland. At this stage, the proposal has not been officially presented as a bill to the Parliament, so the bill proposal may still undergo significant changes before becoming effective, but the main points are outlined below. For more about the draft bill, click here.

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As we explained in our March 24, 2016 alert, on March 23, 2016, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) finalized its “persuader” rule, which would have required that employers and legal consultants report all pay arrangements regarding attempts to persuade employees, either directly or indirectly, about their right to union representation or to bargain collectively. 

The rule significantly narrowed the “advice exception” to the DOL reporting requirements, which had long held that activity relating to an attorney’s drafting of letters, speeches or other communications to employees or an attorney’s legal review of employer communications was exempt from reporting. Under the new rule, any actions, conduct, or communications on behalf of an employer that could directly or indirectly persuade workers concerning their rights to organize and bargaining collectively would have been required to be reported by employers and the attorneys providing the advice.

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