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Warn managers and supervisors: You may be personally liable for discrimination!

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in Discrimination and Harassment,FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Now is a good time to remind management that the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) holds managers and supervisors personally liable for any violations. That means their personal assets are on the line if an employee wins a discrimination lawsuit.

And because the ELCRA is broader than federal law—covering height, weight, marital status and other types of discrimination—employees and their attorneys often add ELCRA claims to their lawsuits.

Recent case:
Pamela Smith, who lost her job after taking more than two years off for medical reasons, sued her former employer and supervisors for discrimination under the federal Title VII and Michigan’s ELCRA.

The court dismissed the supervisors from the federal case, ruling that Title VII does not provide for supervisors’ personal liability. However, it said supervisors could be sued under the ELCRA.

Fortunately for the supervisors, Smith’s case had no merit and was finally dismissed. Smith couldn’t demonstrate that any other employees had taken more than two years off for medical reasons and still kept their jobs. (Smith v. Osceola County, et al., No. 1:06-CV-89, WD MI, 2008)

Advice: Work with your attorneys to set reasonable limits to how long employees can take off on medical or other leave and still stay on the payroll. Remember, the FMLA protects jobs for only 12 weeks. However, disabled employees may be entitled to some additional time under the ADA.

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