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The Flint Journal & Genesee County Bar Association’s “Ask the Attorney”


Q. Despite a recent work injury, I am still able to do most of my job. My employer however has started disciplining me for no reason and I fear I will be fired. What are my rights?

A. There are several laws that protect persons with disabilities from discrimination and retaliation. The Michigan Workers’ Disability Compensation Act prohibits all persons from discriminating against you for exercising your rights under that Act. The Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act prohibits all employers from discriminating against an employee who has a disability which substantially limits a major life activity that is unrelated to the employee’s ability to perform his or her job. The Americans with Disabilities Act also prohibits employers with more than 15 employees from discriminating against employees with certain real or perceived disabilities or a record of such disability. Congress recently amended that act to overturn several Supreme Court decisions. Effective January 1, 2009, more people with more types of disabilities became protected under federal law from discrimination and should be able to remain employed so long as they can perform the essential functions of their job. The Republican State Legislature and Governor Snyder recently amended the Michigan Workers’ Compensation Act so that if a worker is injured after December 19, 2011, returns to some kind of work following a work injury, and the  employer fires the worker “for fault,” that worker can lose not only his job but also his right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. We are very concerned that this terrible provision in the law will cause employers to fire their injured workers over trivial matters in order to try to dodge their responsibilities under the Act. You should seek legal counsel to discuss your own specific situation.

Atty. Robert J. MacDonald
–January 2009 column (updated April 2012)