Workers in Michigan are protected by specific rights designed to safeguard against possible illegal actions by an employer. Laws are also in place to assure a safe and healthy work environment, cover expenses in the event of an injury and provide assistance after job loss.
Employee Discrimination Rights
The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA) makes it illegal for an employer to retaliate against employees for refusing to work in unsafe conditions. Examples are situations in the workplace that impose danger that could result in serious injury, illness, permanent disability or death. MIOSHA also states that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee for reporting unsafe or unhealthy working circumstances, or assisting the state in any inspection or investigation of a suspected unsafe condition. The Employee Discrimination Section (EDS) of the act says that any negative action by the employer, which is deemed the result of an employee’s complaint or refusal to work in an unsafe environment, is considered discrimination. The EDS views the firing, layoff, transfer, demotion, denial of overtime, or the inability to advance within the company as possible discrimination that can be subject to review by the state. Furthermore, assigning a worker to a less desirable shift, denial of sick leave or vacation time, and cutting pay or work hours, can also be viewed as discrimination.
Under the states Workers’ Disability Compensation Act, any person who is injured at work and cannot continue in his or her job has the right to be paid wages for lost time, and to receive medical payment assistance and rehabilitation services. The act covers the majority of workers in the state with very few exceptions, such as federal employees and some specialized industries like railroads, which have separate compensation procedures. If traveling is part of an employee's job, any injuries occurring during travel are covered by workers’ compensation. Generally, workers are paid 80 percent of their average weekly wage after taxes are deducted. In some cases the value of health insurance, pension and other benefits may be used to determine an average weekly wage. All reasonable medical expenses related to the at-work injury are covered by the law. Medical care can continue indefinitely, if the care directly relates to the injury. If a work-related injury permanently prohibits an employee from performing a job he or she is qualified for, and thus limits the potential to earn a wage, then the employee may also be eligible for disability payments under the act.
Employees who are terminated without cause, by no fault of their own, have a right to collect unemployment compensation from the state. In addition, if their normal work hours are reduced, they may be entitled to compensation as an underemployed worker to help supplement lost wages. Unemployment payments are meant to provide temporary income while one looks for a new job and are made over specific amounts of time depending on the situation.
- Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth: Employee Discrimination Rights
- Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth: Employee Discrimination Section
- Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth: An Overview of Workers’ Compensation in Michigan
- Lawyers.com: Employment Law in Michigan – Post Employment
Theresa Custodio is a Michigan-certified nurseryman with over 10 years experience. She has spent over five years working for the State of Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality writing permits and violation notices, which are published for public record. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Michigan University with a major in biology and a minor in conservation and resource use.