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How Do I File a Michigan Civil Rights Claim?

August 5, 2018

As a Michigan civil rights lawyer, I am frequently contacted by people seeking advice on how to address work place discrimination and harassment. After carefully listening to the circumstances prompting the call, I ask, “Does your company have a reporting policy dealing with discrimination or harassment in the workplace?”   Generally, the answer is “Yes.” Larger companies typically have written policies in place identifying how and to whom to report claims. However, in some smaller companies, written polices don’t exist; or there is no policy at all.   Nevertheless, reporting discrimination to your employer (i.e., owner, human resources, or manager) is the first step in exercising your rights under the law.

Why is this important?  The answer is twofold: first, under Michigan law, an employer may avoid liability for unlawful discrimination and harassment if the employee fails to report.  (An employer has a right to be notified of an allegation to trigger its responsibility to “immediately investigate” the claim and take “prompt and remedial measures to eliminate” the discriminatory actions). Secondly, by reporting a claim, the employee protects her or himself from retaliation. It’s important to note that an employee may not be fired, demoted or have their hours or pay reduced for having reported discrimination or harassment in the workplace.  

In addition to reporting discriminatory conduct or behavior to your employer, an aggrieved employee may also file a Formal Complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). The instructions for doing so can be found on the State of Michigan website. Your complaint must be filed within 180 days of the discriminatory act.  Why report to your employer and the MDCR?   Because the filing of a Formal Complaint with the MDCR provides an added layer of protection from unlawful retaliation from your employer and serves as a mandatory pre-requisite to preserving your federal claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  

When filing a complaint with either your employer of the MDCR, there are several key points that should be expressly addressed.

  1. Adequately describe the details of the harassment or discrimination.

For example, if you have been the victim of unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or sexual innuendos, describe the encounters in detail. Make sure to include the name of the harasser, the medium used to perpetuate the advances, i.e., in person, text or email, along with the names of any witnesses.

      2. Explain how the harassment or discrimination has affected your job.

A key element to a claim of discrimination or hostile work environment harassment is the impact that the conduct or behavior has on your ability to perform your essential job functions. The more severe or pervasive the conduct, the more disruptive it may be to completing job tasks.

     3. Identify your resistance to the discrimination.

Some of us feel embarrassed, ashamed or intimidated when faced with workplace harassment. Of course, this is only natural. We all expect and deserve to feel safe and treated equally in our jobs. However, drawing a line and expressing your objection to the unfair treatment is important. We should never expect or excuse those who treat us differently because of our race, gender, age or religious beliefs.  Voicing our opposition and reporting our objections are critical to eradicating discrimination and provide the employer the opportunity to take action - or become liable for damages.

Once your Formal Complaint has been filed, the MDCR will investigate your claims of discrimination.  Following the investigation, the MDCR will make a decision as to whether sufficient evidence exists to substantiate the allegations. If substantiated, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission may order a remedy, or request a “Right to Sue” letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  If the allegations are deemed to be unsubstantiated, the complaint will be dismissed. However, a Right to Sue letter may also be issued. The State does not represent you in civil rights/discrimination claims and filing a complaint is not the same as filing a lawsuit. If a lawsuit is merited, the experienced Michigan civil rights attorneys at Moss & Colella can help. We fight to represent your best interests and help you receive compensation for the loss of your civil rights.

Our passion for personal injury law is hyper-focused on the transgressions of our civil liberties. We believe that every American deserves equal pay, opportunities and a work place free of abuse. While other firms may shy away from difficult and politically incorrect cases, the Detroit Civil Rights attorneys of Moss & Colella have stood up for the impoverished, disenfranchised, abused and homeless for more than two decades.

Experience is the difference. The attorneys of Moss & Colella have argued cases in state and federal courts, making them widely recognized as Detroit’s Civil Rights Law Firm for the following forms of discrimination:

∙         Age Discrimination

∙         Handicap Discrimination

∙         Sexual Assault, Discrimination or Harassment

∙         Police Misconduct, Excess or Deadly Force

∙         Malicious Prosecution

∙         Cyberbullying

∙         Educational Discrimination or Harassment

∙         School Accidents or Injuries

If you or a loved one was involved in any of the above forms of harassment or discrimination, a Michigan civil rights lawyer can be a very valuable resource for you. If you have questions about your rights, call us at 1-800-MUSTWIN or visit our website.

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Client Testimonials

I HIGHLY recommend David Moss; he exceeded my expectations numerous times, and I feel fortunate and blessed to have worked with him and his team. Moss & Colella attorneys have relentless perseverance and dedication for everyone they represent.
If this firm takes your case, it's in exceptionally experienced hands. The hands of attorneys who care about your well-being and the outcome of your litigation!
When I got into a car accident, my life changed. David and Ryan understood how this change affected my livelihood and mobility. They handled my case professionally, and I couldn't be more thankful for all of the sincere guidance and help provided throughout this process.
Thanks so much for everything!!!

The Burls


 I was referred to Moss & Colella in 2018 following a car accident. I cannot tell you how confident and safe I felt knowing that I was in good hands. David, and Ryan made sure that I always had any questions or concerns addressed in a timely manner. I appreciated their compassion, and understanding as I got emotional, and the reassurance they provided, made me feel important and valued as a client. If you need a great lawyer for an injury, this is your firm! I hope I never need to be in a position where I’d need their help again, but if I did, I’d gladly seek their services!

T. Ray


My son sadly passed after a vehicle accident, it was a hard case. Mr. Moss was our lawyer, he was very helpful, very informative, very up front and put alot of effort into this case. He’s a great man, a honest man and his law firm will do the best with any case brought to them. Everyone at his office was very kind and very helpful. I absolutely recommend them for any of your lawsuit needs.
Very grateful for this firm!

S. Collins


Words can not express how grateful I am for the outcome of this case. It was truly a blessing to have this resolved sooner than expected. But without your help and my faith in your firm along with my faith on God, this may not have been possible. I appreciate everything you have done in orchestrating everything to this resolve, for your time and effort meant the world to me. I thank my friend for putting me in touch with such a talented group of people. You will always be considered my attorneys of choice for anything that comes up in the future that would render your services. This year has definitely been many blessings so far and I welcome many more to come. Thank you again for everything and may you continue to be blessed.


Mother of Client

Very few people on this earth impress me. You are one of the very few. My family and I thank you for all you did. You are a good man!



Other law firms would not take my case, they said it was too complicated. But David Moss took my case and got the result I was looking for in almost no time at all. I’m glad I didn’t listen to those other lawyers.



I just wanted to thank you for putting your time and effort into my case. You did a wonderful job last Thursday. You are what people say you are, a wonderful lawyer.



I do not only count on you as one bad ass lawyer, but also a friend. None of this would be possible without you. My deepest gratitude to you and all of the Moss & Colella team.



I am very relieved and very happy with the outcome. I appreciate everything you and your firm did to see this through and I will be grateful for that always. You all came highly recommended and now I see why based on what you did in helping my son through a very challenging moment in his life. We will always be your fans:) Thank you again and may you always be Blessed…


Mother of Client

Moss & Colella PC goes above and beyond, and then some, to get the results you need and deserve! Since my accident in 2021, in which I broke several bones and am not able to work anymore, my vehicle insurance company dropped the ball. They not only tried to discredit me, but also have been trying to screw me out of what was owed to me. Thank you to David and the whole team for putting their all into my case, I got more than I expected! I am so overwhelmed and appreciative by what they have done for me!



Thanks for another great Colella in Context, Vince. You are helping all of us by taking the time to write your thoughtful column.



Attorney David Moss was referred to me after my car accident, I really did not know what to expect. I met with him and he explained the process well. His office helped me get compensation for missing work because of the accident. He was able to get compensation for my caregiver. He also was able to get all my medical bills from the accident paid by the insurance company. And finally he was able to get me much more from the insurance company than their first offer. He and his staff are professionals. I highly recommend Moss & Colella Law Firm. The other law firms say “they will fight for you”, no Attorney Moss will fight for you. Give his office a call and let them handle your case.

Dana Darby


I was referred to Moss & Colella PC after the accident I was in. I could not have made a better choice. From the initial conversation I had with Mr. Moss about taking legal action, to the day I received my settlement, Mr. Moss and his team worked diligently and were adamant about getting what was deserved, keeping me informed each step of the way. What I respect the most about this firm is they are straight up with you about what is going on and what the best options are for you. Thank you to David, Ryan, Kelly, Janice and anyone else who had a part in getting this done.

Dame Mitchell


Best choice I ever made going with Moss & Colella. Vince and Wendy were always there for me from start to finish I love you guys and your firm. I highly recommend this firm. Vince and Wendy are smart, sharp and caring people. God bless you guys and your firm thanks for everything

John Bahoura


I was referred to David and I could never be happier!! I had NO Idea how my case would go or if I even had a case.  David was so STRAIGHT UP with me with the process and how things may go and I can honestly say I appreciated that the MOST. The entire staff made me feel so comfortable, they took care of business! I really appreciate you David!!

Breeana Coe


Attorney David Moss, Ryan, and their assistant Kelly were all AMAZING. They were incredible understanding and patient with me and my family. It was like they knew EVERYTHING  we were going through. They were all right by our side going though and explaining every detail. When this ordeal started I ask someone if they knew of a pit bull that would be able to help us. I am so so glad I was referred to Attorney David Moss.

Thomas Hale


I am very pleased with my experience with Moss & Colella, P.C.  The professionalism, and keeping you informed about every detail that took place were outstanding I could not have picked no one better to handle my case I would give them the highest grade that you possibly could give an attorneys office I am very satisfied with how my case was handled

Earl Moore


The firm of Moss & Colella was wonderful they kept me and my family well informed and constantly gave updates in our challenging legal matter. Kept their word and didn't promise anything they couldn't deliver. I would highly recommend this firm for their personal service and depth of legal knowledge which was a win for my family and helped me feel at ease during a tragic time. Thank you. David Moss Great job. Have a great future. Highly recommended law firm

George Baird


The best staff and always on top of everything. They stay in contact with updates and work hard and fast to hep you in every way. Thanks to all that worked on my case love you all.

Brian L


David Moss and the Moss &  Colella team were awesome! I would recommend them to anyone

Lisette Montry


This is a Top-notch Firm.. They explained my options every step of the way. I would recommend them to my closest family and friends.

Greg Sawmiller


Excellent service very professional fully satisfied

Sterling Crutcher


My experience with this law firm has been excellent. They work hard around-the-clock to solve your situation. I was suggest anyone that needed a lawyer whatever situation to contact them.

Deanne Freenan


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About the Firm

The attorneys of Moss & Colella have carefully chosen their career paths to fight for those that have suffered from injury and wrongful death. We believe every citizen should have the right to hire the best lawyer who will actively advocate for their case.

David Moss and Vince Colella have over 60 collective years of personal injury trial experience that provides you a level of legal services and success unmatched by other firms. By working together, we have the ability to find creative, effective, and efficient solutions to even the most complex cases. No matter what situation you face, we will help you get through it.

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