Missouri Discrimination Law—Friend or Foe?
Up to the middle of 2017, Missouri stood out as one of the most employee-friendly states in the country.
With the introduction of Senate Bill 43, though, certain changes have been introduced that make life more difficult for workers. It also made it easier for employers to get away with employment discrimination.
DoNotPay lifts the lid on the changes to Missouri discrimination law and how they affect you as an employee.
The Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against anyone based on:
These groupings are known as protected statuses.
|Difference to Title VII||
|Size of company||The MHRA applies to companies with six or more employees, compared to Title VII’s jurisdiction over companies of 15 or more staff|
|LGBTQ+ status||Missouri has no provision for sexual orientation or gender identity, so employees are reliant on the gender/sex clauses of both the MHRA and federal law|
|Age cutoff||Age discrimination is limited to employees between the ages of 40–69. The Civil Rights Act has no cutoff age|
Under the MHRA, an employer cannot discriminate against a current or prospective employee in the following situations:
- Hiring and firing
- Remuneration, benefits, or job allocation
- Promotion, relocation, or furloughing
- Advertising open posts
- Recruitment, selection, and testing
- Using company assets or facilities
- Learning and development, including apprenticeships
In July 2017, Senate Bill 43 (SB43) became law in Missouri, introducing major changes to the protection offered to employees in Missouri.
Some discrimination lawyers felt that the changes brought the MHRA closer in line with the Civil Rights Act and other federal legislation. Still, many felt that the changes made it considerably more difficult to prove a discrimination case.
The most significant changes under SB43 are as follows:
- Motivating factor for discrimination
- Individual employees’ liability exemption
Before the introduction of SB43, an employee only had to prove that their status played a role in their adverse treatment by an employer.
Since SB43 has been in force, though, an employee claiming discrimination must prove that their protected status was the motivation for the discrimination.
An example relating to racial discrimination would be as follows:
|Before SB43||After SB43|
|A Black employee could claim that they were terminated due to their supervisor’s dislike of them. The fact that they are Black is a contributing factor||The same Black employee must prove that they were terminated because they were Black|
Before SB43’s enactment, employees acting under the orders of a company’s management could also be held personally liable for any discrimination proved.
Since 2017, individual employees are exempt from prosecution in employment discrimination cases. This could give freer rein to supervisors and managers to practice de facto or even de jure discrimination and could also encourage harassment and retaliation.
As an employee in Missouri, you will normally fall under the jurisdiction of the law—whether state or federal—that offers you better protection.
If your employer is small or you are over 69, you may only have recourse to federal law. In cases where both options are viable, you should bear the following in mind:
- State courts may tend to take a company’s importance for the local economy into account and could be more lenient towards your employer
- Federal legal processes can take a long time—often over six months before they make any headway
- Federal law enforcement may be less willing to resort to legal action but may be more effective at negotiating out-of-court settlements
Before you go the legal route on your employer, though, you should make sure you have exhausted all your internal options.
To demonstrate your efforts to resolve discrimination issues amicably with your employer, you should:
- Keep a detailed diary of every occurrence of discrimination
- Lodge an official grievance with HR for every incident
- Make sure your company has a non-discrimination policy
Both commissions fulfill a similar function in enforcing state or federal anti-discrimination laws, respectively, and both require you to file a written complaint before they commence an investigation.
DoNotPay is your go-to resource when it comes to making your life simpler.
We have made filing a charge of discrimination easy and quick—here’s what you need to do:
- Go to DoNotPay in your web browser and sign up
- Search for our Fight Workplace Discrimination feature
- Give us the details of your case by following the prompts
That’s all you need to do—DoNotPay will forward your case, and the EEOC will handle the rest!
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