Employment Discrimination in Missouri
Filing a Claim of Employment Discrimination in the State of Missouri
In order to bring an action involving employment discrimination in state court, one must first file a "Charge of Discrimination" with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act. After the Charge is filed, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights can investigate, settle, pursue complaints of alleged discrimination and conduct public hearings. However, more often than not, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights notifies a complainant with written notice that they can bring a private action within Missouri's civil court system. This written notice is commonly called a "right to sue" letter. Once a "right to sue" letter is received, the complainant has only 90 days to bring his or her action in state court. This process can be complicated. Deadlines must be met. Information should be worded appropriately within the Charge and the lawsuit. Therefore, it is important to select a competent attorney who understands the intricacies of employment law to help you through the process.
In 2011, nearly 2,000 cases were reported to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (1,831). Of those cases received, 78% of those dealt with employment issues. Thirty-four percent (34%) of the complaints dealt with retaliation in the workplace; 30% dealt with sexual discrimination or harassment; 24% with racial discrimination; 27%, disability, and 18%, age discrimination. At Hall, Ansley, Rodgers & Sweeney, we have handled cases involving all of these types of scenarios. We assist clients while they are still employed, inappropriately discharged or still out of work. We coordinate with our clients in filing their Charge with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. After receiving the "right to sue" letter, we file suit and together we seek justice for the wrongs our clients have suffered. Review our results.
Legislators, Chambers of Commerce and employers are trying to prevent employees from having a voice in this state. Civil actions against employers for their unlawful actions may be the only effective tool halting discrimination.
Under current law, an employer may be held liable if discrimination is a "contributing factor" in an employer's action. In other words, if an employee can prove that the employee's age, sex, gender, race, religion, national origin or pregnancy contributed to the employer's decision (to take some adverse action), the employee can prevail in his or her civil action. This burden has helped wronged employees obtain the justice they deserve. Moreover, this standard discourages bad behavior and encourages employers to put protections in place for their employees.
Sadly, in 2011, the Missouri legislature sought to make it more difficult for employees to seek redress in court. On behalf of special interests, the republican-led legislature set-out to change the definition so as to require the employee to prove that the discriminatory act of the employer was THE "motivating factor" in the employer's decision. This proposed change effectively places a heavier burden on the employee. This change would make it easier for employers escape responsibility for discriminatory behavior. Luckily for Missouri's workers, Governor Nixon vetoed this change in 2011.
The legislature is likely to try to change the law again in the coming years. In order to keep the existing law, contact your representatives in the Missouri House and Senate. Tell them to stop rewarding bad behavior. Tell them you want the law to remain as it is. In these modern times, discrimination and harassment should not be tolerated. Don't allow Missouri to take a step in the wrong direction--the only way to prevent such behavior is to hold the wrongdoers accountable.
If you need representation involving discrimination, retaliation or harassment, please do not hesitate to contact our office for a free consultation by phone or email.