Articles & Publications 08.17.22

Michigan Supreme Court Confirms that Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity are Prohibited by the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act

On July 28, 2022, in a 5-2 decision, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that discrimination based on sex includes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Rouch World, LLC v Department of Civil Rights, 2022 Mich. Lexis 1487. 

The Michigan Elliott Larsen-Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”) was enacted in 1976 to prevent the denial of “the opportunity to obtain employment, housing and other real estate, and the full and equal utilization of public accommodations, public service, and educational facilities without discrimination because of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status as prohibited by this act, is recognized and declared to be a civil right “the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation or public service.” MCL 37.2102(1).

In Rouch World, the Michigan Supreme Court concluded that discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity citing the aforementioned plain language of the ELCRA and the United States Supreme Court Opinion in Bostock v Clayton Co, 140 S Ct 1731, (2020). 

EMPLOYER BEST PRACTICE POINTER:  Whether large or small, employers are now prohibited, under both the State of Michigan law and federal law, from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Employee manuals, handbooks and training should be updated accordingly.