Michigan Civil Rights Commission Prohibits Discrimination Based on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
On May 21, 2018, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (“MCRC”) voted that sex discrimination as addressed in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”) will include discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
While ELCRA’s federal counterpart, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, the Sixth Circuit held in March that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is discrimination on the basis of sex. Moreover, the federal equivalent to the MCRC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, continues to bring claims of sex discrimination involving gender identity and sexual orientation.
Employers should consider sexual orientation and gender identity to be protected classifications in making employment decisions and taking adverse employment actions against employees. Although not expressly authorized by statute or recognized by Michigan courts, the MCRC’s decision will provide support for discrimination and harassment claims based on these newly identified protected classifications. Employers should review their policies and training materials to ensure that they are sufficient.
Mark C. Knoth has over 20 years of experience representing employers in a wide range of employment and labor law matters. Mark chairs the firm’s Labor, Employment, Employee Benefits & ERISA Practice Group.
On a daily basis, Mark counsels and advises business owners, managers and human resources professionals on workplace issues including civil rights and anti-discrimination laws; employee discipline; wage and hour; overtime; employee leaves; reasonable accommodations; veterans issues; picketing; secondary boycotts; reductions in force; drug testing; unemployment compensation; affirmative action; and union organizing campaigns, among other matters. He additionally drafts employee policies, handbooks, contracts, and covenants not to compete, and investigates threats of violence, allegations of harassment, and other employee misconduct.
Mark has successfully represented employers in hearings, trials, and appeals in federal and state courts on a variety of employment law claims including, race, sex and national origin cases alleging discrimination, retaliation and harassment under Title VII; disability and failure to accommodate claims under the ADA; age discrimination claims under the ADEA; retaliation and failure to reinstate claims under the FMLA; claims alleging failure to pay wages and overtime under the FLSA; employee benefit claims under ERISA; breach of covenants not to compete claims; wrongful termination claims and numerous other State and Federal claims. A number of cases Mark has successfully handled have become published cases. Mark represents employers in investigations conducted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the Michigan and US Departments of Labor, and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. As a special mediator for the EEOC, Mark facilitates the resolution of charges of discrimination brought against employers.
Mark’s broad range of experience also includes traditional labor relations matters such as negotiating collective bargaining agreements, trying discharge and contract interpretation grievances in labor arbitration and he appears before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Michigan Employment Relations Commission at unit clarification hearings and union certification elections, and unfair labor practice proceedings
Mark frequently speaks to employer groups, and trains human resources managers on a variety of employment related legal topics. He also writes on subjects related to his practice and is a contributing editor to a nationally recognized publication. Mark is conversational in German.
Mark was named to The Best Lawyers in America®, by Woodward/White, Inc. in the area of management side employment law. He also has been awarded and maintains the Martindale-Hubbell AV rating, reflecting preeminence in his legal ability and ethical standards. Mark has also received an Excellent rating through Avvo.com. Mark was also selected by dBusiness Magazine as one of Detroit's Top Lawyers in Metro Detroit for Labor and Employment Law for 2015.
Katherine F. Cser focuses her practice on labor and employment issues. She counsels and advises business owners, managers and human resources professionals on workplace issues including discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour laws, medical leave laws, among other concerns.
She has also practiced as a commercial litigator on a wide variety of commercial disputes in federal and state courts and arbitral proceedings. Katherine has experience in commercial transactions litigation, as well as restrictive covenants and intellectual property and related tort claims.
Before joining Kerr Russell, Katherine was an attorney in the New York City office of a national law firm. In 2014 and 2015, she was named to the New York Metro Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars list. In 2016 and 2017, Katherine was named to the Michigan Super Lawyers' Rising Stars list.
- Katherine's article "The Real Estate Industry Must Be Cautious with Social Media" was published by the American Bar Association and can be reviewed here.
- Katherine's article “Proposed Tip-Pooling Regulation: Impact on Restaurateurs” was published by the American Bar Association Section of Litigation, Employment and Labor Relations Law and can be viewed here.
- VIDEO (here): Kerr Russell attorneys Kate McCarroll and Katherine Cser discuss the top five issues today in immigration, labor and employment law: Sexual Harrassment, Transgender Employees, Employment Manuals (NLRB's Boeing Decision), Department of Homeland Security Oversight, Immigration Challenges
About Kerr Russell ...
We are proud of Detroit. We are proud to have had a seat at the table here since 1874.
Our exceptional attorneys understand the unique challenges facing business leaders. Our legal solutions are prompt, accurate, economical, and focused around your needs in every area, including business law, labor and employment, immigration, mergers and acquisitions, real estate and construction, healthcare, medical practices, tax, contract negotiation, restructuring, automotive, manufacturing, and commercial litigation.
Whereas many lawyers merely interpret the law, our attorneys help to make it. We have been involved in some of the most significant legal developments in state business and health care law, and our trial lawyers have been involved in many notable commercial cases in Michigan and other jurisdictions.
In business and legal circles, we are respected for our high standards, quality work, and professional ethics and integrity.
For over 140 years, Detroit has been our home. Detroit will always be our home.
500 Woodward Ave., Suite 2500,
Detroit MI 48226
201 West Big Beaver Road, Suite 260, Troy, MI 48084
7/F, Oriental Financial Centre
333 Lu Jia Zui Ring Road, Pudong District, Shanghai 200120, China