LANSING — On Wednesday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel provided guidelines on how to report and file complaints about individuals and businesses that aren’t complying with Governor Whitmer’s executive orders. The AG office’s Consumer Protection intake line is now flooded with phone calls related to violations of the state’s new rules implemented due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection intake team will continue to receive consumer reports of price-gouging and scams. Those can be made online or by calling the office’s tip line at 877-765-8388. For other violations of the governor’s executive orders, the AG’s office says to contact the law enforcement agency where you reside. Failing to comply with the orders could result in a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail for each violation.
Nessel said anyone seeking interpretation of an executive order should first review those orders and the Frequently Asked Questions listed on the state’s website devoted to COVID-19. Weblinks to those pages and additional information can also be found through the Attorney General’s website.
If an answer is not found, requests for an interpretation of an executive order can be emailed. Responses to those inquiries will likely be delayed as the AG’s Office discusses them with the Governor’s Office for a final determination.
Nessel recently assigned a team of special agents to assist her attorneys in gathering information related to the high number of price-gouging complaints the Attorney General’s Office has been receiving during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These men and women are highly trained criminal investigators and will help the office visit stores to evaluate details of consumer complaints, assist with online research to compare pricing and receive phone calls or letters from consumers, the AG’s Office said.
The latest tally of price-gouging complaints received by the Attorney General’s Office is 1,417, which includes 585 written complaints received as of 7 a.m. Monday and 832 complaints received by phone as of 5 p.m. Saturday.
Nessel to Michiganders: Know your employment rights
The AG has established a Know Your Employment Rights section on the department’s website to provide information and answers to questions about the legal rights of employees and employers under Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.
The website also provides information on which types of employees are considered “critical infrastructure workers” under the order, and therefore permitted to work outside the home, as well as frequently asked questions about employee rights and employer responsibilities, and suggested practices for law enforcement and prosecutors.
Under the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life is prohibited. Unless an employee has been designated by his or her employer as a critical infrastructure worker, that employee cannot be compelled to work outside the home. A willful violation of this executive order is a misdemeanor and should be reported to law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the offense occurred.
Further, Michigan law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees for exercising any right that may be afforded to them under the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA). In general, Michigan law requires employers to provide every employee with “a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to the employee.”
If an employee believes their employer is failing to take the proper precautions to protect employees from exposure to various threats, they can learn how to file a complaint with MIOSHA online.