Chicago, Ill. (January 22, 2024)  - It was a busy year for labor and employment law in the State of Michigan. Here is a recap of some of the key developments in 2023.

Expansion of the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act

Michigan's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations and public services, education facilities, and housing and real estate based on religion, race, color, national origin, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status. The law was expanded to include protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression.

Michigan Repeals “Right to Work” Law

On March 24, 2023, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation (Senate Bill No. 34) repealing Michigan's right-to-work law for private-sector employees. The new law is set to go into effect on March 30, 2024. Under the new legislation, employees in unionized workplaces will no longer have a statutory right to opt out of union membership or refrain from paying union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Prevailing Wage Act Restored

On March 24, 2023, Governor Whitmer also signed legislation that reinstates prevailing wages for projects that are funded with any amount of state funds, including school district projects. Moving forward, a commission will establish prevailing wages and fringe benefits for construction projects, and a schedule of these rates will be part of the specifications for work to be performed. In other words, the wages and fringe benefits paid to trade workers during state projects must be equal to or exceed the wages and benefits that are standard in the locality of where the work is being performed.

Michigan's CROWN Act

On June 15, 2023, Governor Whitmer signed the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act. The CROWN Act amends the definition of “race” in the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to clarify that it includes “traits historically associated with race.” The CROWN Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of hairstyles that are commonly associated with race. Employers with dress codes and policies of the like should make any necessary adjustments if they have not already.

Minimum Wage Increase

On January 1, 2024, Michigan's minimum wage will increase to $10.33 per hour from $10.10 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped employees will also increase, to $3.93 per hour and, for employees ages 16 and 17, to $8.78 per hour. (On January 1, 2023, Michigan's minimum wage increased to $10.10 per hour from $9.87 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped employees also increased, to $3.84 per hour and, for employees ages 16 and 17, to $8.59 per hour.)

Litigation Update on Michigan's Paid Leave and Minimum Wage

In 2018, the Michigan legislature adopted and then amended two voter-approved ballot initiatives. One initiative expanded employer obligations to provide paid sick leave and the other significantly raised Michigan's minimum wage. In 2022, the Michigan Court of Claims held that the legislature's actions amending the law violated the Michigan Constitution and ordered reinstatement of the ballot initiatives as originally presented. Additional litigation ensued, and the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed in 2023. The decision was appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, which recently heard oral arguments on the issue. The issues before the Supreme Court are whether the legislature violated the Michigan Constitution when it enacted voter initiatives and then amended the initiatives, and, if so, whether the voter initiatives remain in effect. If Michigan employers are in compliance with the current version of the Paid Medical Leave Act and minimum wage laws, they do not need to take further action until a decision of the Michigan Supreme Court issues.

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