The CMDA Appellate Group has won a case in which it impressed the Michigan Court of Appeals that the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act does not extend to corporations.
The case arose from an incident at a gas station where the corporate owners of the gas station and an individual who manages the station sued the city, claiming that one of its police officers made discriminatory comments to the individual and dissuaded customers from using the station, allegedly because the individual and his father were of Arabic national origin and practiced the Islamic religion. The Plaintiffs alleged that the City violated the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination in the provision of public accommodations and public services.
The Court concluded that fundamentally, the Act prohibits decision-makers from using race, sex, national origin, and marital status, among other human characteristics, as determining factors in decisions affecting people’s employment, education, housing, and public accommodations. And, in every case, it is the person whose interests are protected, not corporations. The Court noted that when the Act says that individuals are to be protected from discrimination based on race, sex, and marital status, it grants protection to natural persons, based on these individual and exclusively human characteristics. Thus, the Court held persons that seek protection from the anti-discrimination provisions of the Act, do not state a cause of action under the Act.