Michigan: Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation Prohibited


All Employers with MI Employees


July 28, 2022



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In Rouch World, LLC v. Department of Civil Rights, the Michigan Supreme Court said that Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), which prohibits sex-based discrimination, also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. The ELCRA applies to employers of all sizes and applies as well to housing, education facilities, and places of public accommodation and service. This case was made up of two investigations conducted by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). In the first case, a venue declined hosting a same-sex wedding ceremony on the grounds of a violation of religious beliefs. In the second case, a transgender woman was denied services due to her sex identity on the grounds of a violation of religious beliefs. Both defendants sued MDCR and sought to stop the investigations on the grounds that the ELCRA does not apply to sexual orientation and gender identity. 


The Michigan Supreme Court relied on the U.S. Supreme Court’s analysis of Title VII in Bostock v. Clayton County in reaching its decision. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that sexual orientation is “inextricably bound up with sex” because a person’s sexual orientation is determined by reference to their own sex. Also, discrimination based on sexual orientation requires someone to intentionally treat individuals differently because of their sex. Ultimately the Michigan Supreme Court agreed that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation inherently involves discrimination on the basis of sex, and the ELCRA language of “because of…sex” includes sexual orientation. 


Action Items 

  1. Revise discrimination and harassment policies and training materials, as applicable. 
  2. Have appropriate personnel trained on the definition of sex discrimination. 
  3. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance. 


Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser. © 2022 ManagEase