Friday, December 11, 2020

Michigan Court of Claims: State Civil Rights Law Bans Gender Identity, But Not Sexual Orientation, Discrimination

In 2018, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission in Interpretive Statement 2018-1 concluded that:

as used in the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act “discrimination because of... sex” includes discrimination because of gender identity and discrimination because of sexual orientation.

Now in Rouch World, LLC v. Michigan Department of Civil Rights, (MI Ct. Cl., Dec. 7, 2020), the Michigan Court of Claims 

"discrimination because of sex under the ELCRA includes discrimination because of an individual’s “gender identity,” and thus Interpretative Statement 2018-1 is valid to that extent....

However, feeling itself bound by a prior state Court of Appeals decision, the court held:

discrimination because of an individual’s “sexual orientation” is not prohibited under the ELCRA. Whether enforcement of Interpretative Statement 2018-1, as modified by this opinion and order, would interfere with plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion has not been sufficiently briefed to resolve at this juncture.

At issue in the case According to the Detroit News, Michigan's attorney general plans to support the Civil Rights Commission's full interpretation in an appeal.