A Brief Guide to Michigan’s Protected Classes

I receive calls daily from workers across the State of Michigan who believe they have been wrongfully terminated or refused employment. However, even if your employer singles you out for termination or you are passed over for a position, that does not always mean that you have a case. If you are an employee or job applicant and you think that you have been discriminated against, you will need to know about the different protected classes of individuals  recognized both at the national level and by the State of Michigan. If you are treated differently because of your membership within one or more of these protected classes, then you may well have legal recourse against your employer (or potential employer).
Federally Protected Classes
Employers in all fifty states are legally prohibited from discriminating against people due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy and childbirth), disability, age (40 and older), citizenship status, and genetic information. These protected classes don’t just protect people from getting hired or fired, but they are also intended to ensure that discrimination are not used to determine pay, benefits, disciplinary action, promotions, or anything else in the workplace.
Additional Protected Classes in Michigan
In addition to all of the federally mandated protected classes listed above, Michigan also lists marital status, AIDS/HIV status, height, weight, and misdemeanor arrest record as protected classes. These additional categories are important for ensuring that employers are not treating people differently because of things that they cannot easily change, or can’t change at all.
To Which Companies Do These Classes Apply?
All companies that have 15 or more employees are covered by the legal prohibition against discrimination based on these categories. This is the federal mandate. Michigan, however, takes it a step further. Any employer that has one or more employee is subject to the state’s antidiscrimination laws.
What Protections Do These Classes Enjoy?
Those who are a part of a protected class do not enjoy any extra benefits, but are simply protected against discrimination because of being a part of one of these classes. An employer cannot legally factor the fact that someone is a part of a protected class into their decisions at all. If they do, they are violating the law and may be subject to legal action.
What to Do If You’ve Been Discriminated Against
If you are in one or more of the above mentioned protected classes and you believe that you have been discriminated against by an employer, it is important to act right away. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and report the incident. If you’d like to take it a step further, you can also get an attorney to represent you in a case against the offending company. To learn more about all your rights, contact Carla D. Aikens, P.C. to go over the specifics of your claim and determine if you have a legitimate case to pursue.

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