How do I file a Michigan Civil Rights Claim?
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.
- 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
∙ 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.