Civil Rights Claims
The state and federal antidiscrimination statutes protect Michigan employees in both the public and private sector against workplace discrimination. All aspects of the employment relationship including hiring, training, demotion, promotion, discipline, compensation and discharge are protected. These statutes allow employees to bring private causes of action for a violation. Employees also have the right to pursue administrative remedies before the Michigan Civil Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen civil rights act (ELCRA) prohibits discrimination based upon race, age, gender, religion, national origin, weight, and height, as well as marital status. Title VII of the civil rights act of 1967 (Title VII) prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. There are federal statutes which prohibit discrimination on the basis of physical disabilities including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Both Michigan and federal law prohibit employers from using sex as a basis for employment decisions or conditions. Sex discrimination includes sexual harassment. Sexual harassment claims include claims known as quid pro quo which occurs when an employer or one of its agents makes compliance with a request for sexual favors as a term or condition of employment. Hostile work environment claims are those in which an employee is subjected to unwelcome sexual remarks or conduct either intended to or which in fact interfere with the employee’s employment or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Employees may file suit against employers for both physical and emotional damages as well as economic losses on account of these violations.
Under federal law, the prohibition of sex related discrimination includes pregnancy and childbirth issues.
Both state and federal statutes prohibit employers from basing employment decisions or conditions on race. Most claims in regard to race discrimination are those which allege that an employer treats one race differently than another, either on an individual or a group basis.
Race discrimination cases also include racial harassment which may include repeated racial slurs, an employer’s tolerance of unfair conditions or circumstances and generally offensive behavior toward either an individual or a group of individuals on the basis of race.
State and federal laws make it unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate against any individual with regard to any term or condition of employment because of that individual’s age. The law prohibits retaliatory actions, age-based qualifications, publications of aged-based preferences and forced retirement. Generally, for one to be successful in an age discrimination claim, it must be shown that the person claiming discrimination is a member of a protected group (probably over forty years of age), was subjected to an adverse employment action, was qualified for the particular position, and was replaced by or passed over in favor of a younger person not a member of the protected group.
Under federal law there is no mandatory retirement age. An employer, however, can demonstrate that age is a legitimate factor to deny one the right to perform a particular job. An employer may not compel, however, an employee to retire based solely on their age.
Michigan and federal law prohibit an employer from discriminating against an individual who has a disability that is unrelated to his or her ability to do a particular job. The law does not protect a person with a disability that affects his or her ability to perform the duties of a job. An employer is required to accommodate disabled employees even if the handicap is related to the employee’s ability to perform the job unless accommodation would constitute undue hardship on the employer.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) contains several important provisions which include restriction on medical examinations. In particular, an employer may not conduct a medical exam of a job applicant except after an offer of employment has been made and before the employment duties have begun. Height and weight discrimination are prohibited by Michigan statute. Unless an employer can show that a particular height or weight is a legitimate occupational qualification, an employer’s requirements in that regard are unlawful.
In most all discrimination claims, an employee has the right to a trial by jury. Damages consist of both economic losses and damages for emotional and physical injury if any. If you believe you have been discriminated against on the basis of any of the above circumstances you should discuss your claims with Paul Shibley at your earliest opportunity, as many of these types of claims have a short statute of limitations.