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AG Nessel to Michiganders: Know Your Employment Rights

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Attorney General has established a Know Your Employment Rights section on the department’s website to provide information and answers to questions about the legal rights of employees and employers under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today. 

The website also provides information on which types of employees are considered “critical infrastructure workers” under the order, and therefore permitted to work outside home, as well as frequently asked questions about employee rights and employer responsibilities, and suggested practices for law enforcement and prosecutors. 

The Stay Home, Stay Safe order was issued to slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and to protect the public health and welfare of Michigan residents. Willful violations of the order can result in a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail for each violation.  

“The executive order and other state laws provide certain protections for employees during this rapidly changing landscape, and it is important that every resident understands their rights," Nessel said. “Certainly, as this pandemic continues new challenges and questions will arise, but we are confident there is nothing we can’t overcome when we all work together.” 

Under the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order, in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life is prohibited. Unless an employee has been designated by his or her employer as a critical infrastructure worker, that employee cannot be compelled to work outside home. A willful violation of this executive order is a misdemeanor and should be reported to law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the offense occurred. 

Further, Michigan law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees for exercising any right that may be afforded to them under the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act (MIOSHA). In general, Michigan law requires employers to provide every employee with “a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing, or are likely to cause, death or serious physical harm to the employee.”   

If an employee believes their employer is failing to take the proper precautions to protect employees from exposure to various threats, they can learn how to file a complaint with MIOSHA online.  

A summary of the activities people can and cannot do under the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order can be found online, the text of the order can be found here, and answers to frequently asked questions about the order can be found here

The Attorney General’s office will continue to receive and evaluate consumer complaints of price-gouging and scams, though other violations of executive orders should be reported to law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the alleged offense occurred. Price-gouging and scam complaints can be reported online to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection team, or by calling 877-765-8388. 

Anyone seeking interpretation of an executive order should first review those orders and the FAQs listed on the state’s website devoted to COVID-19. Weblinks to those pages and additional information can also be found through the Attorney General’s website

If an answer is not found, requests for an interpretation of an executive order can be emailed to the Michigan Department of Attorney General.