Laws on Hostile Work Environments in Michigan
Constraints of the Law
- Under Michigan law, abuse you experience in the workplace must be related to your race, age, gender or a disability for it to qualify as a hostile work environment. Generalized bullying because of a personality conflict does not count. Your boss's abusive behavior, or that of co-workers, must be repetitive and something you have to put up with every day.
- Michigan has separate statutes for each type of discriminatory behavior in a workplace. The most commonly charged violation is sexual harassment. Your employer or someone you work with must make repeated sexual advances toward you, either physically or orally. If your boss offers you raises or a promotion in exchange for sexual favors, this qualifies too. He might also allow a great deal of sexual innuendo directed at you in the workplace. Generally, these instances must happen more than once. The exception is if someone actually assaults you or forces himself on you.
How to Take Action
- If you're a victim of sexual harassment at work, you have 180 days or six months from the date of the last incident to file a complaint with Michigan's Department of Civil Rights. For other types of harassment, you have to first notify the company you work for that you're uncomfortable with the situation, either through the human resources department or to your boss directly. You'll want to get it on record that you've done this, so it's advisable to make the complaint in writing.
You should also consult with an attorney. There are many gray areas to this kind of law, and you'll probably need the assistance of a professional if you want to move forward with a lawsuit against your employer.
- If the abuse you're suffering at work is severe but for some reason does not fall within the legal parameters of Michigan's hostile work environment laws, you can file a lawsuit alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress. However, lawsuits of this type are hard to prove, and the courts usually intervene only in truly egregious cases. Talk with a lawyer to find out if you have a case.