About EllisonLegal

I am proud to represent employees who have employment problems. I've made a practice of more than thirty years trying to remedy the wrongs my clients have suffered in the workplace. I work closely with them to understand what happened, why it happened, and what should have happened instead. Then, my clients and I examine together what rights the law provides to them and how best to achieve justice for the injustice they suffered. This means working as a team and collaborating to obtain the evidence and pursue the strategies that will let us present that evidence to greatest effect.

It is nearly universally true that people see themselves and how they "fit" in the world by what they do for a living. They spend at least half their waking hours at work, focused on doing a good job for their employers, and when they're thrown out of their jobs unfairly or forced to endure humiliating work environments, they suffer much more than the loss or anticipated loss of a paycheck. Their justifiable anger at the situation mixes with anxiety and worry about what lies ahead for them, and that toxic combination degrades their sense of self-worth. These situations - and my ability to try to do something about them - keep me coming to the office early in the morning and working after hours to try to remedy them.

In doing so, I take to heart the words of Harry Philo, a late legal hero of lawyers for individuals, who said:

We are lawyers on the side of people. Never let us forget that the law is never settled until it is settled right, it is never right until it is just, and it is never just until it serves society to the fullest.

A few of my client collaborations of which I'm especially proud include these :

  • A free speech case for a municipal employee forced out of her job because of political positions she took that her boss opposed.
  • Another free speech case for a municipal employee who worked in the mayor's office until he came out in support of the mayor's opponent, and first was transferred to a position where he sold dog licenses and then was fired for campaigning on the public sidewalk during his lunch hour.
  • A series of pregnancy discrimination cases where female employees were required to report their pregnancies to their employer immediately upon discovering them and then were placed on involuntary medical leave because the employer believed pregnant women "shouldn't be working."
  • Sex discrimination in promotion cases where the employers refused to promote women because the workforce "wasn't ready for a woman" in a leadership position.
  • A sex harassment case where the supervisor insisted that the employee dress in a certain provocative way in the workplace.
  • A race discrimination in promotion case where the person passed over for the job had greater education, training, qualifications, experience, and performance reviews than the person granted the promotion.
  • An age discrimination downsizing where the employer chose the oldest member of the department for layoff, even though she had the best reviews and production of all in her department.
  • A whistleblower case where the employee was fired after reporting the employer's illegal activity to the police.
  • An FMLA case where the employer refused to recognize the employee's serious health condition despite the reports of the employee's physician and the employer's direct observation of the condition at work.

Representing employees after they have suffered workplace discrimination or retaliation reinforces my strong belief that employees who have a voice in the workplace have additional protection against unfair treatment. The first fifteen years of my career was spent representing trade unions and their members, negotiating and enforcing contracts, arbitrating grievances protesting unjust dismissals, and organizing the unorganized. Since 2000, I have also worked to referee the elections of International officers of the Teamsters Union by insuring that all candidates and their supporters honor the rules guaranteeing fair elections and ordering remedies against those who violate those rules. This work has shown me the benefit employees have in exercising their democratic rights in union affairs and, by extension, in the workplace.

Outside of my law practice, I am a long-time member and regularly attend Detroit's Central United Methodist Church, a reconciling congregation with a long history and current practice supporting civil rights, the poor, and the homeless. I am the proud father of two college-aged sons, who are beginning to make their own marks in the world. I sing bass in two choral groups and have performed with the Detroit, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco, St. Louis, Ann Arbor, Toledo, and Budapest symphony orchestras. I play the piano with decidedly amateur precision. I enjoy reading new fiction, and I also read non-fiction to try to understand history and how the world works. And several days a week I can be seen at my local Y or on my bike.

EDUCATION

Washington University in St. Louis, AB 1980, major in economics and minor emphasis in English
Wayne State University Law School, JD 1983, with major emphasis in employment and labor law

ADMISSIONS

State Bar of Michigan
United States District Court, Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan
United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
United States Supreme Court

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