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December News Updates
Unique Giving Option for MLA

Thank you for your stock donations! If you have appreciated stock and are interested in this form of giving, contact Mary Bennett.

Smart Giving: Donating Appreciated Stock

According to the example given by National Philanthropic Trust, a donor with appreciated stock (held for more than one year) can reduce their tax liability by giving the stock directly to a donor advised fund (DAF), rather than liquidating the stock and then donating the proceeds. Doing this can eliminate capital gains tax and reduce tax liability. Using NPT's hypothetical, a donor with $100,000 in long-term appreciated stock, purchased for $10,000, avoided capital gains via a donation to charity. Always consult your own tax advisor, and enjoy smart giving. More here
Go Team! MLA Wins
Important Court Battle
State court judge rules that bonuses and wages are not interchangeable.

Migrant Legal Aid has won another battle in its state court litigation against Manzana LLC. In this lawsuit, Kent County Judge Christopher Yates had certified a class of workers, the first of two significant rulings in this case where Plaintiffs allege they were not paid for all hours worked. In the most recent court filing, Manzana argued that even if that were true, Manzana gave some of the class members an end-of-season bonus, and that this bonus should be used to reduce or eliminate any money that Manzana may owe to their employees.

As farmworkers and advocates know, the biggest bonuses usually go to the most efficient workers. If Manzana had been successful in its argument(s), then the hardest workers - the ones that benefitted their employer the most - would have been hurt the most.

Fortunately, the court largely rejected Manzana's argument(s), ruling that bonuses and wages are not interchangeable. Migrant Legal Aid believes this is the first opinion of its kind in Michigan, setting a positive precedent for the future.

This case is an example of how Migrant Legal Aid meets the unique legal needs of Michigan farmworkers. MLA filed this case in 2018 and has pursued it through both state and federal Courts. We are in a unique position to have the resources, the unparalleled class action experience for Michigan farmworkers; and the freedom to pursue a multi-year class action case for migrant workers. We appreciate the expertise and dedication of private attorneys, like our co-counsel Paul Strauss and Curtis Warner. Much credit to Ben O'Hearn of MLA who briefed and argued these significant motions.
COVID19 protections for Michigan migrant workers
to include anti-retaliation
This bill prohibits employers from disciplining, discharging or retaliating against an employee who: (1) does not report to work for specific reasons related to COVID-19, (2) opposes a violation of the act, or (3) reports health violations related to COVID-19. It also provides employees with a civil cause of action if their employer violates this act. Moreover, employers are not shielded from liability under HB 6030. Therefore, employers should carefully consider whether they are permitted to discipline or discharge any employee who lawfully remains home for COVID-19 related reasons permitted under this bill and modify their policies to conform to the requirements of this bill.
Farmworker Wage Freeze 'Utterly Arbitrary and Unlawful'
An attorney for Farmworker Justice warned that, if allowed to take effect, the wage freeze would cause "grave harm to some of the most vulnerable workers in the nation." Read more
Question of the month
What does Migrant Legal Aid staff do when not doing field outreach?
During the growing season (when we do outreach to the migrant camps) we gather data, clients, and evidence for cases that we work on throughout the winter months. The attorneys spend their time preparing cases, attending court hearings remotely, catching up on the work generated in the summer months, communicating with clients, current and new, working on crime-victim legalization, hosting, attending advocacy meetings, monitoring and updating education programs. To volunteer, email Mary Bennett
In other news...