Michigan employees benefit from some of the more progressive legal rights in the country. Now, even more Michiganders are gaining legal protections from discrimination based on who they are.
This past March, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill into law that expands the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) to specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The law will take effect on Feb. 13, 2024.
The law applies to employment and more
The ELCRA, which dates back to 1976 includes protections against discrimination not just in employment but in housing, education and public accommodations and services as well. The law currently includes protections against discrimination based on age, color, national origin, race, religion, sex, familial and marital status as well as, unlike other states, height and weight discrimination.
In signing the law, Gov. Whitmer said, “I want everyone to know that Michigan is a place that will fight for your freedom to be yourself. Guaranteeing equal legal protections to LGBTQ+ Michiganders is the right thing to do. It’s also just good economics [and] will help attract and retain talent from across the nation….”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, said that she has “long fought for equal treatment under the law and am grateful to finally see those protections explicitly spelled out within our state’s statutes.”
While codifying these protections into state law is a big step, unfortunately, it can’t guarantee that people won’t face discrimination and harassment in the workplace for their sexual orientation or their gender identity or expression. It does, however, give employees a better chance of fighting back when it occurs. If you have been harmed by such discrimination and haven’t been able to satisfactorily resolve the matter with your employer, you can seek legal guidance to explore your options and protect your rights.