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Posted on: September 1, 2023

Washtenaw Prosecutor, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Enter Partnership

 Representatives from LEO, WCPO, and labor leaders prior to the MOU signing

The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office (WCPO) and the State of Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formally establishing a collaborative partnership to enforce workers’ rights, conduct joint investigations and outreach efforts, and share information.  The MOU will expand and improve protection for Washtenaw County’s workforce, and level the playing field for responsible employers. 

The MOU was formally signed on August 31st, 2023 at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 252/UA Local 190 union hall in Washtenaw County. Labor leaders from across Washtenaw County joined the Prosecutor’s Office and LEO for the signing. 

This partnership is the first of its kind between a county prosecutor and the State of Michigan. The MOU will allow WCPO and LEO to coordinate on investigations, and collaboratively determine whether to bring local or state enforcement actions. Furthermore, the agencies agree to cross-train investigators and other staff at least once a year.

The Prosecutor’s Office also maintains a separate MOU with the federal Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division—allowing for joint investigations and information-sharing where a workers’ rights issue may violate federal law.

“The Prosecutor’s Office is dedicated to pursuing justice when people are harmed, and I am excited that we have made further progress in fighting for worker protection,” said Eli Savit, Washtenaw County Prosecutor. “With both state and federal partnerships in place, Washtenaw County now has a ‘no wrong door’ approach to workers’ rights. We are grateful to our governmental partners and look forward to collaborative work towards shared goals.”

“Certainly, protecting workers is at the heart of the work we do, and many of our statutes include provisions for referring cases to local prosecutors,” said Sean Egan, LEO’s Labor Deputy Director. “This partnership with Washtenaw builds on our efforts to help working people exercise their rights and protections to the fullest extent of the law.” 

In addition to collaborative investigatory and enforcement work, the agencies agreed to conduct joint outreach presentations and prepare and distribute publications for the community. Both agreed to work with each other to provide a side-by-side comparison of laws with overlapping provisions and jurisdiction. The MOU will thus provide further opportunity to spread awareness about workers’ rights and wage and hour laws.  

Two years ago, the Prosecutor’s Office announced the formation of an Economic Justice Unit to specifically focus on economic harms. The Unit, initially funded through a grant by the Public Rights Project, focuses on workers’ rights and consumer protection.

“This partnership strengthens our ability to help workers by leveraging local expertise with state resources to enforce the law,” said Todd Ryan, head of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Economic Justice Unit.  

More information about the wage and hour laws enforced by LEO’s Wage and Hour Division is available on the WHD website and you may file a Wage and Benefit Complaint online.  

For more information about the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Economic Justice Unit, visit the EJU Website or fill out this form to tell the EJU about economic harm in Washtenaw County.

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