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New legislation would provide additional worker protections during pandemic

Cory Doctorow

New legislation in the statehouse would protect employees from being fired for asking their employer to provide more - or better - personal protective equipment.

The lawmaker behind the bill says it addresses problems that occurred early in the pandemic when some employees worried they could be fired for wearing PPE while on the job or face retaliation for calling for workplaces to provide more - or better - masks.

Currently, the Governor’s Executive orders require employers to provide non-medical grade masks and require masks be worn in indoor public spaces.

Democratic State Representative Yousef Rabhi said workers need more protections during a pandemic.

“We’re seeing employers that are maybe not providing the most protective equipment and this allows in that space for employees to bring their own,” he said.

Rabhi separately introduced legislation to require “just cause” in firing employees.

Michigan is currently an “at-will” state - meaning an employee can be dismissed for any reason at any time, so long as the reason isn’t illegal.

Rabhi said workers need better protections.

“We have tended towards being a society that puts profits over people and we need to amend that to put people first.”

Rabhi said he’s hopeful the PPE legislation will pass.

With the “just cause” legislation he said it’s more about starting a conversation.