Detroit  In response to a request from the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and 27 other organizations, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission issued a declaratory ruling yesterday that an employer’s exclusion of contraceptives from a health plan that covers other prescription drugs and services violates Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

“The MCRC has clearly done the right thing,” said Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “This ruling is a victory for women’s equality. It is only fair for women and men to be afforded equal treatment. Women should not have to pay out of pocket for contraception, while Viagra is accessible to men and covered by insurance plans. ”

 The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said previously that Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from excluding prescription contraceptive coverage when other drugs and devices are covered for companies with 15 or more workers.

 However, the MCRC ruling extends that to employers with less than 15 employees.  About 60 percent of Michigan businesses employ fewer than 15 people.

"The language of ELCRA clearly prohibits employers from excluding prescription contraception coverage,” the commission wrote. "Such exclusion would mean that the employer is treating women differently based on sex.”