What Employers Need to Know About the Recent Changes to the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act

Michigan Senate Bill 4, signed into law recently by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, adds sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to categories protected from discrimination under the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA).

Originally passed in 1976, the ELCRA prohibits discriminatory practices based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status.

The changes to the ELCRA protect the rights of residents by including sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in the Act.

Under the new provisions of the Act, sexual orientation means having an orientation for heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality or having a history of such an orientation or of being identified with such an orientation.

Gender identity or expression means 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 employers need to know regarding the recent changes to the ELCRA:

Under the Act, employers are prohibited from doing any of the following (based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, or expression):

  • Refusing or fail to hire or recruit an individual;
  • Firing an individual;
  • Otherwise discriminating against an individual regarding employment, compensation, or a term, condition, or privilege of employment; or
  • Classifying an employee or applicant for employment in a way that deprives them of an economic opportunity.

An employer also may not print, circulate, post, mail, or otherwise cause to be published a statement, advertisement, notice, or sign relating to employment by the employer that indicates a preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Help is available

Employers are encouraged to update their employee handbooks to reflect the changes in the law. The attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are available to answer your questions regarding employment law. For more information, please call 586-726-1000 or visit our website.

Categories: Business