Embattled civil rights chief takes leave of absence

Aug 21, 2019

The embattled director of the Michigan Civil Rights Department has taken a leave of absence. That’s after Agustin Arbulu resisted calls for him to resign amid findings of misconduct and the Michigan Civil Rights Commission refused to fire him.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is among those who’ve said it’s time for Arbulu to step down. But Whitmer can’t fire the civil rights chief. Under the state constitution, only the Michigan Civil Rights Commission can hire or fire the director.

The commission decided to discipline Arbulu but keep him on the job following a formal investigation. It found he made comments that demeaned a woman he saw at a meeting as well as a high-level staffer who is gay.

Arbulu has now taken a leave of absence for an undetermined period of time. The acting director is Mary Engelman, who is a deputy director and also leads the Michigan Women’s Commission.