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Sterling Employment Law

Curbing LGBT discrimination: focus of Michigan business coalition

It is never a good feeling to be treated differently at the workplace. As most Detroit, Michigan, residents might agree, unfair treatment at the workplace for non-professional reasons can be most disempowering. Where such behavior has its roots in attitudes towards race, the law in most states can censure both the employer and individual employees who carry out these offensive acts. But given that the legal ramifications of a person's sexual orientation are still being debated throughout America, it often falls to the employee to counter any incidence of workplace discrimination when it occurs on the basis of sexual orientation.

In Michigan, however, there seems to be more than just hope for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community who are adversely impacted by current employment legislation. According to the law as it exists, employers can dismiss employees because of their sexual orientation.

However, the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition, which counts as members such firms as Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan, AT&T and Whirlpool Corporation, is determined to ensure that any laws which enable discrimination by employers are amended. The Coalition aims to reaffirm that Michigan's work ethic is about working hard to earn one's livelihood, without compromising on the hallowed principles of fairness, equality and justice.

Despite the lack of clearly stated legal protection, those who feel aggrieved by the stance taken by their colleagues or employer can still seek justice through existing laws on sexual harassment at the workplace. This may require documenting any and every instance of crude or unpleasant behavior, and might possibly require the assistance of an established attorney. Many employers have clauses in employment contracts which prohibit discrimination. It is therefore useful to explore contractual and legal means by which some protection may be available.

Source: WEMU.org, "Michigan Business Leaders Push For LGBT Discrimination Protections", Bob Eccles, May 12, 2014

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