New efforts to ban sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination

This November, Illinois opted to recognize same-sex marriage, becoming the 15th state to do so. In Michigan, gay marriage is still banned by law. In many areas of the state, an individual can be lawfully discriminated against in employment because of his or her gender identity or sexual orientation.

Even so, when someone is discriminated against at work due to his or her sexual orientation or gender identity, that person may, depending on the circumstances of the case, have remedies under existing laws against gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. In addition, there might be more workplace protections coming for LGBT individuals as the U.S. House of Representatives considers new legislation and local human rights ordinances continue to expand throughout Michigan jurisdictions.

After November election, 30 Michigan cities prohibit LGBT workplace discrimination

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, is a bill that would extend protections against workplace discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity. If ENDA becomes law, employers to which it applies could not terminate, refrain from hiring or promoting, make pay decisions, or otherwise discriminate against workers on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Amid much fanfare, the U.S. Senate recently passed ENDA. However, in order to become law, ENDA must now pass muster in the U.S. House of Representatives, where it is expected to face stronger opposition.

While the fate of the new anti-discrimination legislation at the federal level remains uncertain, a number of Michigan communities are taking matters into their own hands. Grassroots efforts have been fruitful in passing local ordinances against LGBT employment discrimination in 30 Michigan cities. Royal Oak, a Detroit suburb, was the latest Michigan community to ban workplace discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in a November 2013 vote.

Talk to a Michigan employment law attorney if you have been discriminated against

If you believe you may have been discriminated against at work because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you may have legal options even though there is not yet a statewide ban on LGBT discrimination in Michigan. As mentioned, inappropriate workplace conduct may fall under existing sexual harassment or gender discrimination laws. Or, you could live in one of the 30 Michigan localities with laws against LGBT discrimination.

You don't need to await the ENDA vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to do something if you have been discriminated against. Contact a Michigan workplace discrimination attorney, and explore the legal solutions that may be available to you.