Michigan Whistleblower Laws

Whistleblower Laws as they apply to the state of Michigan

A Summary of Whistleblower Laws in Michigan

Michigan follows the employment-at-will doctrine. This means employers can discharge their employees for any reason or no reason. However, the state of Michigan has put in place exceptions to this doctrine in order to protect employees from unlawful retaliation. They include common law protections and statutory protections. Common law protections are laws created by the state’s courts to address subject areas that are not covered by the enacted laws whereas statutory protections are laws that are enacted by the state’s legislature to address specific subject areas, e.g., minimum wage laws

This is a summary of Michigan Whistleblower Laws, make sure to check out the Federal Whistleblower Laws as well.

Whistleblower Rights in Michigan

Common Law Protections for Whistleblowers in Michigan

Michigan has a public policy that is used as an exception to the employment-at-will doctrine. Therefore, employers are not allowed to discharge their employees for reasons that violate the state’s public policy. To determine if a discharged employee is eligible for protection under the state’s public policy, the courts usually rely on statutory and constitutional provisions and in some cases prior judicial opinions. Generally, some activities are considered protected activities. This means employees who engage in such activities are protected under Michigan’s public policy. Some of these activities include:

  • Exercising a right afforded by a statute or any other law.
  • Refusing to participate in an activity that is outlawed.
  • Disclosing a violation of a law, rule, or regulation.

Statutory Protections for Whistleblowers in Michigan

Whistleblower Protection Act

Employers are not allowed to discharge, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Reporting or intending to report a violation of a law, rule, or regulation to a public body.
  • Participating or intending to participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry held by a public body or court.

Reports should be made either verbally or in writing.

Mich. Comp. Laws § 15.362.

Discrimination under the Civil Rights Act

No person is allowed to in any way discriminate against an individual in retaliation for:

  • Filing a complaint under this act.
  • Making a charge under this act.
  • Testifying or assisting in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this act.

Mich. Comp. Laws § 37.2701.

Occupational Safety and Health

It is illegal for an individual to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Filing a complaint under this statute.
  • Instituting a proceeding under this statute.
  • Testifying in a proceeding under this statute.
  • Exercising a right afforded by this statute.
  • Refusing to operate equipment that has been tagged by the Department of Labor as a safety risk.
  • Participating in an investigation, inspection, or conference under this statute.

Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.1065.

Minimum Wage Laws for Whistleblowers in Michigan

Employers are not allowed to discharge or in any discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Serving or intending to serve on a wage deviation board.
  • Testifying or intending to testify before a wage board.

The wage deviation board is responsible for enforcing the state’s minimum wage laws.

Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.395.

Health Care Workers

Hospital employees are immune from civil or criminal liability and they also cannot be discharged, threatened, or be discriminated against by the hospital with regards to their compensation or the terms and conditions of their employment in retaliation for reporting an unsafe practice or condition that is in violation of this statute. Employees are required to give the hospital a 60 day written notice before reporting the issue to the relevant department unless the employee has a reasonable belief that the hospital would not take timely action to address the issue. Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.20180.

Payment of Wages and Fringe Benefits

Employers are not allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Filing a complaint under this statute.
  • Instituting a proceeding under this statute.
  • Testifying in a proceeding under this statute.
  • Exercising a right afforded by this statute.

Mich. Comp. Laws § 408.483.

Persons with disabilities Civil Rights Act

No person is allowed to in any way discriminate against an individual in retaliation for:

  • Opposing a violation of this act.
  • Filing a complaint under this act.
  • Making a charge under this act.
  • Testifying or participating in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this act.

Mich. Comp. Laws § 37.1602.

Whistleblower Hotlines in Michigan

To file a complaint under the Payment of Wages and Fringe Benefits statutes, call the Michigan Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division at 517-284-7800.

To file a complaint under the Occupational Safety and Health statutes, call the Michigan Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) at 517-284-7777.

Whistleblower Retaliation Claims in Michigan

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, lawsuits concerning unlawful retaliation should be filed within 3 years of the retaliation.

Whistleblower Protection Act

Lawsuits under this act should be filed within 90 days of the retaliation.

Occupational Safety and Health

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the Michigan Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) within 30 days of the retaliation.

Payment of Wages and Fringe Benefits

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the Michigan Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division within 30 days of the retaliation.

Whistleblower Retaliation and Violation Penalties in Michigan

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, employers who carry out unlawful retaliation against an employee may be liable to the aggrieved employee for a combination or any of the following:

  • Reinstatement to the previous job position.
  • Reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights.
  • Lost wages
  • Litigation costs
  • Plus any other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

Whistleblower Protection Act

Individuals who violate this act by carrying out unlawful retaliation against employees may be liable for a fine of up to $500.

Minimum Wage Laws

Employers who violate this statute may be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

Payment of Wages and Fringe Benefits

If the department of labor determines that an employee suffered unlawful retaliation under this statute, the department may order the reinstatement of the employee to his or her previous job position with back pay.

More Michigan Laws

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