Earlier this month, Senate Bill 4 was introduced in the Michigan State legislature. If this legislation passes, it will represent a historic step forward in the fight to adequately protect LGBTQ+ workers from discrimination as they seek to earn a living.
Specifically, the bill aims to expand both employment-based protection and protection in re: public accommodations and services for LGBTQ+ Michiganders by broadening the reach of the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. If this effort is successful, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression would explicitly serve as a protected classification in these ways under state law. Once someone is recognized as a member of a protected class, they are far more protected by law in the event that an employer, service provider, etc. discriminates against them based on that protected identity trait.
As currently drafted, the bill defines sexual orientation as “having an orientation for heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or having a history of such an orientation or being identified with such an orientation” and gender identity/expression as “having or being perceived as having a gender-related self-identity or expression whether or not associated with an individual’s assigned sex at birth.”
What will happen if and when the law is passed?
When legislation is proposed, its outcome is not guaranteed. Therefore, it will remain important for LGBTQ+ workers to seek legal guidance in the event that they are unsure of exactly what their rights are currently at the state and federal levels.
Protection for LGBTQ+ workers has evolved significantly over the past several years and will likely continue to do so. Speaking with a legal professional who understands both the ins and the outs of the law and how it’s applied to individual circumstances can be helpful when there are concerns that someone’s rights may have been violated.