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Court Of Appeals Refuses To Toss Staffer Lawsuit Against Lawmaker

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson reached a proposed agreement with the League of Women Voters in a gerrymandering lawsuit. If the court agrees 11 State House congressional districts will be redrawn.

The Michigan Court of Appeals has rejected a lawmaker’s attempt to use legislative immunity to fend off a sexual harassment lawsuit.

More from The Michigan Public Radio Network’s Rick Pluta.

State Representative Brian Banks is accused by an ex-employee in his office of discrimination and sexual harassment. Banks argued that his status as a legislator made him immune to the lawsuit. The Michigan Constitution does grant lawmakers some protection from arrest and lawsuits while the Legislature is in session.

But that protection is not absolute. And the court of appeals said in a unanimous, precedent-setting decision that immunity is not extended to personnel matters. That’s because it’s meant to protect the legislative process, not the interest of any individual lawmaker. Banks can appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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