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Michigan Expands Definition of Sex-Based Discrimination

On March 16, 2023, Michigan passed a Bill (MI S.B. 4) amending its protected categories to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression as prohibited categories for discrimination. The passage of this bill means that Michigan employers may not discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression during any part of employment, including hiring, pay, and its terms and conditions of employment. The amendment is effective on June 14, 2023.

Under the amended Act, the new protected classes are defined as follows:

  • “Gender identity or expression” is 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; and
  • “Sexual orientation” is having an orientation for heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality or having a history of such an orientation or being identified with such an orientation.

Next Steps for Employers

Employers should ensure they are creating a workplace that protects and welcomes all LGBTQ+ employees. Company leaders and human resources staff should become familiar with, and comfortable using, the correct terminology and inclusive language, such as the use of proper pronouns.

Employers should review and update their Equal Employment Opportunity and Non-Harassment/Non-Discrimination policies to incorporate protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Employers should also consider reviewing and updating training materials and the content of any equal employment opportunity, non-harassment or non-discrimination training to include information and examples of prohibited harassment or discrimination related to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

Additionally, it may be a good time review and update any dress code/personal appearance policies to ensure they are gender-neutral and broad enough so employees of any gender feel comfortable physically presenting themselves in the workplace.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.