Ellen E. HoeppnerEllen Hoeppner Clark Hill
Ellen E. Hoeppner
Ellen E. Hoeppner is a Senior Attorney with the Labor & Employment Practice Group in Clark Hill’s Detroit Office.
Ellen represents employers in all aspects of employment law. She has defended employers in federal and state courts and before federal and state administrative agencies in matters involving employment discrimination, harassment, retaliatory discharge and wage and hour claims. Ellen has extensive knowledge of:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
- The Family and Medical Leave Act
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
- The Americans with Disabilities Act
- The Fair Labor Standards Act
- The Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act
- The Michigan Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act
- The Michigan Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act
- The Michigan Sales Representative Act
- The Michigan Wage and Fringe Benefits Act
Ellen also regularly counsels employers on personnel matters including: drafting employment and independent contractor agreements; drafting personnel policies and handbooks; completing and maintaining application, employment and Form I-9 records; managing leaves of absence; and discipline and terminations.
Ellen is also a sought-after corporate trainer and investigator for employers.
Professional and Community Affiliations
Active in the legal community, Ellen currently serves as Immediate Past President of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, Wayne Region, and as a member of the Communications Committee for the State Bar of Michigan Labor & Employment Law Section. Ellen is also actively engaged in the Detroit Metropolitan community and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Accounting Aid Society and is a member of The United Way Emerging Philanthropists.
- Michigan Lawyers Weekly – Up and Coming Lawyers Class of 2016
- Women Lawyers Association of Michigan - Regional Leadership Award – 2015
- Super Lawyers - Rising Stars, Labor & Employment Defense – 2012-2016
- Age Discrimination Plaintiffs Hit the Jackpot: Lessons Learned from Recent Big Ticket Jury Awards - Michigan Chamber of Commerce Webinar, June 2017
- Sex Stereotyping and Gender Identity in the Workplace – Clark Hill Webinar, July 2016
- Restrictive Covenants in the Employment Setting – Clark Hill Webinar, June 2016
- Employment Law Basics – Automation Alley Entrepreneur Law Seminar, October 2015
- Is Your Head Spinning From the Recent Round of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions, Proposed Overtime Regulations and Agency Guidance? - Clark Hill Webinar, July 2015
- Are You Ready for an I-9 Audit or ICE Raid? - Associated General Contractors of Michigan, July 2015
- Understanding Employment Discrimination Claims Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity – Clark Hill Employment Conference, April 2015
- Dealing With Complex Issues Under the ADA and FMLA – Clark Hill Webinar, April 2015
- Human Resource Record Keeping: Legal Requirements – Michigan Chamber of Commerce, March 2015
- Hiring: What You Need to Know About Employment Applications, Interviewing & Vetting Candidates and I-9 Compliance – Clark Hill Webinar, December 2012
- Avoiding Retaliation and Whistleblowers Claims — Clark Hill Employment Conference, May 2012
- Are Your Independent Contractors Really Employees? – Clark Hill Webinar, November 2011
Mark McInerney and Ellen Hoeppner recently obtained dismissal of a contentious lawsuit filed against Clark Hill’s client United States Steel. In October 2014, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against U. S. Steel, alleging disability discrimination, interference under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and workers’ compensation retaliation. The plaintiff’s claims all stemmed from a workplace injury plaintiff suffered in July 2013, in which the tip of his finger was caught in a machine and nearly severed. Over the next two days, the plaintiff twice failed to appear at U. S. Steel Plant Medical for evaluation as directed, and misrepresented his medical condition by telling Plant Medical personnel that his finger had to be surgically “cut off” due to infection. When the true facts came to light, U. S. Steel determined the plaintiff’s misconduct warranted termination.
These relatively straightforward facts, however, were made very complicated by a zealous plaintiff’s attorney, who propounded a theory of wide-spread discrimination against disabled employees because such employees posed a liability risk to the company for the purposes of workers compensation and OSHA reporting. Mark and Ellen filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, carefully separating the unsupported theories from the undisputed facts. The Court dispensed with oral argument, and on the strength of the briefs, United States District Judge Linda Parker recognized the theory for what it was, and dismissed the plaintiff’s case.
Paul Coughenour, Ellen Hoeppner, Jeff Bell and Steven Holmes persuaded the Michigan Court of Appeals to reverse a trial court’s denial of their summary disposition motion on a retaliation claim under the Michigan Civil Rights Act. Clark Hill obtained summary disposition of the plaintiff’s sexual harassment claim from the trial court, but was forced to file an application for leave to appeal to avoid an expensive and difficult trial on plaintiff’s claim that she was fired for reporting sexual harassment. After leave to appeal was granted, with one dissenting vote, oral arguments were made last week to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that plaintiff had not opposed a violation of the Act by objecting to offensive comments by her coworkers, or by sending her supervisor an email complaining that there was “a lot of unacceptable/inappropriate behavior that goes on” at the workplace. It ordered the case remanded for entry of judgment on plaintiff’s retaliation claim in favor of Clark Hill’s clients.