As an employee in Michigan, federal laws protect you from unfair treatment at work. Going to work should never be a traumatic event, and your employer should ensure that no one violates your rights to a safe workplace.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, here are the employee rights every employer has a duty to protect.

Freedom from harassment and discrimination

Most people have biases, although they may not believe that they do. The inclination to be prejudiced against some group of people based on a characteristic believed to be a common factor is almost universal. Federal laws address these characteristics explicitly so there can be no confusion about whether someone belongs to a protected class that would otherwise be subject to bias. Protected characteristics include the following:

  • Genetic information
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Disability

People ages 40 and over have protection from age discrimination, and discrimination based on sex includes gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy. Even if you are not pregnant now, an employer may not make an employment decision based on your ability to become pregnant.

Equal pay

Not everyone who has the same job title performs the same duties at the same level, and some people with different job titles may perform similar duties. However, women should not receive less because of their gender—a historic problem in the workplace. The key to the equal pay protection is that the work is similar enough to be considered “substantially equal.”

Freedom from retaliation

If you take a protected action such as reporting an illegal or unsafe condition, harassment or discrimination, your employer cannot retaliate against you by firing you, demoting you or taking some other negative employment action. You also have the right to participate in an investigation or lawsuit regarding discrimination.

Medical considerations

If you have a disability, including a temporary disability or health issues because of pregnancy, your employer must provide any accommodations that allow you to do your work, as long as they are reasonable. Any of your medical or genetic information that you provide to your employer must be kept private and confidential.

This general overview of employee rights is provided for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.