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Michigan business execs want gender discrimination banned

Under employment law, it is unlawful to discriminate employees based on gender, race, religious belief or physical disability. Unfortunately, many employees across the United States, including in Michigan, suffer from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Now some state business leaders think it is time for one of the last areas of discrimination to be outlawed.

The Business Leaders for Michigan is 2014 plan wants to make the state one of the top 10 economies in the country. One way to do that, officials say, is to end any discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity.

The group, which includes more than 80 executives, has a membership that is involved in businesses covering nearly one-fourth of the state's economy. The suggestion to outlaw these last vestiges of discrimination is part of an effort to foster diversity in the state as well as expand cultural exchange programs and attract skilled immigrants.

Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 bans most discrimination but not sexual orientation, identity and expression. The state's Department of Civil Rights also agrees that antidiscrimination laws protecting transgender, bisexual, gay, and lesbian residents would benefit the state's economy.

Currently, many graduates and professionals leave the state and move to more welcoming states because of discrimination. This also makes it harder for business to recruit and retain skilled employees as well as boost employees' morale and productivity.

Employers have the right to protect their business interests but they also have a responsibility to look after the interests of all of their employees. Unfair practices such as workplace discrimination often foster hostility in the workplace and affect employees in ways that should never be tolerated. When that happens, an employee who has been the victim of discrimination has the right to file a lawsuit against the employer and seek damages.

If an employee or a person seeking employment believes they are victims of employment discrimination, they should seek to understand the situation. This will help them determine the right course of action and whether they can file a civil suit.

Source: MLive, "Michigan CEOs: Ban employment discrimination against gay people as way to improve economy," Melissa Anders, April 3, 2014

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