Joann Fabrics selling nonessential items, lobbies to stay open

Employers not allowed to punish workers for reporting businesses

DETROIT – Multiple nonessential businesses have been cheating by skirting loopholes and taking advantage of the sheer workload of law enforcement.

JOANN Fabrics and Crafts has publicly declared itself essential but has been denied by the state, and has since reapplied.

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After receiving numerous text messages and emails that offered discounts for curbside pick-up, Local 4′s Paula Tutman went to investigate and placed an order at its Rochester Hills store. When she picked up the order, she asked why the store was open during the mandatory nonessential shutdown and the employee said the store wasn’t open.

The retailer had been lobbying to remain open since Gov. Whitmer’s executive order that closed all nonessential businesses.

So what’s essential?

“No person or entity shall operate a business or conduct operations that require workers to leave their homes or places of residence except to the extent that those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations.”

RELATED: What nonessential employees can do if they’re being forced to work during coronavirus crisis

On Monday, March 30, Jo-Ann Stores sent a letter to the Attorney General’s office, asking again for an exemption since the store could provide materials to perform face masks.

The chain was granted a narrow scope of what the stores could sell and deliver by way of curbside pickup.

“We have reviewed your inquiry in the context of the language and intent of the governor’s order and determined that JOANN Fabrics can operate curbside pickup with the minimum amount of people necessary to facilitate delivery of only those materials that could be used to create personal protective equipment, like masks.”

The stores are allowed to do curbside deliveries, but only for items that can be used to construct personal protective equipment.

Tutman’s order with the store included crafting paint, masking tape and scissor. While it’s just paint, the world does not shut down for the folly of it. The idea is to keep people home so they do not spread or contract the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus. There are multiple businesses going under because they’re obeying the law and some aren’t.

Nonessential employees who are still working can file a complaint for working in hazardous conditions with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Click here to visit MIOSHA’s official website.

The Attorney General’s office added a new section to its website, Know Your Employment Rights, to provide Michigan residents with more information on the legal rights of employees and employers under the executive order.

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