Michigan Prohibits Employment Discrimination Based on Termination of Pregnancy

By Jana Bjorklund, GovDocs Senior Counsel and
Director, Employment Law and Compliance
Published Feb. 15, 2024

What employers need to know about the recent amendment to Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ECLRA).

In May of 2023, Michigan’s Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, signed into law Senate Bill 147 (SB 147), amending the state’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA). This amendment is significant because it will prohibit companies from treating an employee differently for terminating a pregnancy for any reason. This change will take effect in March 2024. 

Background on the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act 

The ELCRA was originally enacted in 1977 and prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression. The last two categories were added to the ELCRA in March 2023.  

The ELCRA currently prohibits sex-based discrimination due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy. However, it includes an exception for “nontherapeutic abortions not intended to save the life of the mother.” Thus, employers could legally discriminate against employees who terminate a pregnancy if it was not intended to save the life of the mother.  

Effect of SB 147 on Employment Discrimination in Michigan 

SB 147 removed this exception, and under the amendment, employers are prohibited from discriminating against an employee based on termination of a pregnancy. The language under this latest amendment makes it clear that employers may not treat employees differently for any employment-related purpose because of an employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, termination of a pregnancy, or a related medical condition. 

Next Steps for Employers 

Employers in Michigan should review their policies and procedures regarding discrimination to ensure they align with the changes to Michigan’s discrimination law. If changes need to be made to the company policy, it is always best practice to train your managers on the changes. Employers should be prepared with any necessary changes before the amendment takes effect on March 28, 2024. 

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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