Some people in Michigan workplaces may feel as if they do not have to worry about facing discrimination. They may be abled-bodied, not open about their religious practices, of a typically favored gender or otherwise do not fall into one of the classes protected from discrimination under federal law. However, it may be possible for individuals who are not specifically in these classes to face associational discrimination or retaliation due to their relationship with someone in a protected class.
Associational discrimination or retaliation may seem less prevalent than more straightforward biases against certain workers, but they are still issues worth addressing. After all, everyone is entitled to a law-abiding work environment. The following information may prove useful to workers who suspect that they may have been unjustly treated in the workplace:
- Associational discrimination could occur if an employer or another authority figure treats a worker less favorably because he or she has an association with a member of a protected class.
- Associational retaliation could occur if an employer takes retaliatory measures against a worker who has an association with someone who carried out a legally protected activity, such as reporting wrongdoing in the workplace.
- The association could include friendship, romantic relationship, business ties or familial relationship.
Of course, proving associational discrimination or retaliation can be difficult. The individual would need to prove various factors, including that the employer knew about the association with the member of the protected class. The individual would also have to show evidence of adverse treatment directly connecting to that association. Fortunately, with the right help and information, Michigan workers facing negative effects due to this type of mistreatment may be able to seek restitution.