Michigan employment law protects employees from being discriminated against because of their age. If an employer treats an employee less favorably because of their age, forty or over, this would be recognized as possible age discrimination. However, sometimes proving that an employer acted less favorably is very difficult. As an example, during the hiring process an employer generally is not mandated to hire the most qualified individual; therefore, they may hire a younger worker but not have to disclose why!
The age discrimination law is not only a Michigan employment law, but also a federal one as well. The law states that an employer can’t discriminate against someone during the hiring, compensation, conditions of employment, privileges of employment, discharges, promotions, etc. What will generally get an employer in trouble would be if a trend becomes very evident or they verbally make’s statements against someone because of their age. Statements like we like fresh blood in our business.
The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, also referred to as ADEA, protects individuals who are forty or over as I mentioned above. This means that asking for a birth date or someone’s age during the recruitment process would be an illegal act. The only exception would be if you need to know if someone is over a certain age to sell perhaps alcoholic beverages. But make sure you limit yourself to only asking if someone is over the legal age. Make sure you double check with the Michigan Department of Labor if this is legal.
This website also strongly recommends that you incorporate your businesses position on age discrimination in your employee handbook. Provided you follow your position having it included in your employee handbook will potentially help you if an employee ever files a claim for age discrimination against you. Of course, there is no guarantee that you will be completely protected. You may want to double check with Michigan employment law to make sure that if you have an employee handbook that a clause about an “employee at will” should be added.
They request a picture be submitted with any resume…
Like I mentioned earlier it is an employer’s actions that generally gets them in trouble with discrimination laws. Although they do not say anything directly, they hire only individuals far less than forty. They make statements that indicate that this is their intent. They request a picture be submitted with any resume. They make reference to age in many of their conversations. They tell age related jokes. I can go on and on but the bottom line is that the federal employment law as well as the Michigan employment law will catch up to you if you act in this manner.
The Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, also known as the ELCRA (MCL 37.2202) prohibits age discrimination. Follow it and incorporate it into your employee handbook along with all your other employment policies. The Michigan employment law covers many more topics than just age discrimination and at some point, in the future I hope to provide more information on them. Please make sure that you consult with a legal professional before implementing any employment policy whether in Michigan or any other state.
Thank you and may God bless you!