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EEO - Discrimination: Missouri

EEO - Discrimination requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Authors: Jason Janoski and Alan L. Rupe, Kutak Rock LLP

Summary

  • The Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) applies to more employers than federal antidiscrimination law and prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related disabilities), ancestry, age or disability. See Discrimination Under the Missouri Human Rights Act.
  • Employers may not conduct employment testing which discriminates against individuals based on membership in a protected class. See Employment Testing.
  • Under Missouri law, a complainant must prove that protected class status was the motivating favor in the adverse employment decision. See Causation.
  • It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee or applicant because the individual uses lawful alcohol or tobacco products off the employer's premises during non-work hours unless the use interferes with the employee's duties or the operation of the business. See Smokers' Rights Law.
  • It is unlawful in Missouri for an employer to use any genetic information or genetic test results of an employee or prospective employee to distinguish between, discriminate against, or restrict any right or benefit otherwise due to the individual. See Genetic Testing.
  • St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City have local requirements addressing discrimination. See Local Requirements.

Discrimination Under the Missouri Human Rights Act

The purpose of the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) is to eliminate and prevent human rights violations. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.030.1(1); See Green v. City of St. Louis, +870 S.W.2d 794 (Mo. banc 1994).

The MHRA prohibits an employer from discriminating against individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related disabilities), ancestry, age or disability. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.055.

Discriminatory Practices

Discrimination in the employment context is generally defined as any unfair treatment based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related disabilities), age, or disability. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010(5).

Employment practices declared unlawful are substantially similar to those in Title VII, and include all discrimination in hiring, firing, discipline, pay and benefits, advertising, and any terms, conditions, or privileges of employment that adversely affects employees or prospective employees when grounded on the prohibited factors. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.055.1(1).

It is also unlawful to aid or abet prohibited discrimination or to retaliate against an individual who opposes a practice under the MHRA, files a complaint, or assists in any way with an investigation or proceeding under the MHRA. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.070.

It is also unlawful for an employer or employment agency to publish an advertisement, use an employment application, or ask a question of a job applicant that expresses any discrimination, limitation, or specification based on a protected characteristic. +Mo. Rev. Stat. §213.055.1(3). There is an exception if the limitation is based on a bona fide occupational qualification.

It is unlawful to discriminate in any manner against any other person because of such person's association with any person protected the MHRA. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.070.

Employment Testing

The use of any test which adversely affects hiring, promotion, transfer or any other employment or membership opportunity of protected classes constitutes discrimination unless the following requirements are met:

  • The test has been validated and evidences a high degree of utility as described; and
  • The person giving or acting upon the results of the particular test can demonstrate that alternative suitable hiring, transfer or promotion procedures are unavailable for his/her use. +8 CSR 60-3.030..

The term test is defined as any pencil-and-paper or performance measure used as a basis for any employment decision.

Defenses

An employer may apply different compensation standards or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment: under a bona fide seniority or merit system; under a system that measures earnings by production quality or quantity; or to employees who work in different locations. +Mo. Rev. Stat. §213.055.2. An employer may also give and act upon a professionally developed ability test. These exceptions do not apply if there is an intention or a design to discriminate, or they are used to discriminate based on a protected characteristic.

Employees of both sexes shall have an equal opportunity to any available job that he or she is qualified to perform unless sex is a bona fide occupational qualification. +8 CSR 60-3.040(8).

Employers may ask a question of a job applicant that expresses discrimination, limitation, or specification based on a protected characteristic if based upon a bona fide occupational qualification. +Mo. Rev. Stat. §213.055.1(3).

An employer may request the Missouri Commission on Human Rights to issue an advisory opinion on whether a limitation based on a protected characteristic is a bona fide occupational qualification for a particular job. Requests must be made in writing. The Commission will issue a written opinion. And a limitation made with Commission approval will not be a violation of the MHRA. +8 CSR 60-3.020(2) ; +8 CSR 60-3.020(5)

For the purpose of Regulation 60-3.020, the bona fide occupational qualification exception shall be narrowly interpreted to include only those situations where the essence of the business would be undermined by not excluding persons on the basis of their sex, religion or national origin. +8 CSR 60-3.020(4).

Application of Federal Law

Federal case law is instructive to interpreting the MHRA, but it is not controlling because the MHRA and the federal standards are not identical. See Brady v. Curators of Univ. of Mo., +213 S.W.3d 101 (Mo.App. 2006).

Causation

Pursuant to an amendment to the MHRA,an employee or applicant must prove that their protected characteristic was "the motivating factor and actually played a role in the adverse action or decision and had a determinative influence on the adverse decision or action." +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010.

Notice Posting

Employers are required to conspicuously post an equal employment poster. +8 CSR 60-3.010 (1980). As mandated by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, every Missouri employer covered by the Missouri Human Rights Act must post the Missouri Discrimination in Employment Is Prohibited Poster. Additionally, as mandated by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, places of public accommodation covered by the Missouri Human Rights Act must post the Missouri Discrimination in Places of Public Accommodation Is Prohibited Poster.

Recordkeeping Requirements

Employers must preserve, for one year, any personnel or employment record made or kept by any employer including, but not limited to, application forms and other records having to do with hiring, promotion, demotion, transfer, termination, terms of compensation and selection for training.+8 CSR 60-3.010(4).

When an employer is notified of a discrimination complaint, it must preserve all relevant personnel records until final disposition of the complaint. +8 CSR 60-3.010(5).

The Missouri Commission on Human Rights may draw an adverse presumption against an employer from an employer's failure to maintain records according to the statute. The presumption is rebuttable.+8 CSR 60-3.010(6).

Applicability

Employers

The MHRA applies to all employers in Missouri with six or more employees, including the State of Missouri and any political subdivision of the State. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010(7). By comparison, Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act only apply to employers with 15 or more employees. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act only applies to employers with 20 or more employees.

The MHRA does not apply to corporations and associations owned and operated by religious or sectarian groups. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010(8).

Individual and Vicarious Liability

Pursuant to an amendment, the definition of employer specifically excludes individuals employed by an employer such that that individual managerial employees such as supervisors and managers can not be personally liable for acts of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010(8).

Employees

The MHRA does not define employee. Missouri courts have adopted the definition in Title VII. An employee is an individual employed by an employer. See Sloan v. Bankers Life & Cas. Co., +1 S.W.3d 555(Mo.App.W.D. 1999) (citing +42 U.S.C. § 2000e(f); +42 U.S.C. § 12111(4); +29 U.S.C. § 630(f)).

Preferential Treatment Not Required

The MHRA does not require an employer, employment agency, labor organization, or joint labor/management committee to grant preferential treatment to any individual or to any group because of the race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age or disability on account of an imbalance as to that group among employees or applicants. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.055.3.

Protected Classes

Sex and Pregnancy

Employers are prohibited from engaging in the discriminatory practices listed above because of an employee's or applicant's gender. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.055.1.

Whenever a job advertisement contains any job title or job description which is not clearly neutral in terms of sex, and the job advertised is not one for which sex is a bona fide occupational qualification, then the advertisement or notice shall instead utilize a neutral job title whenever practicable. If the use of a neutral job title is not practicable, then the advertisement or notice may contain the nonneutral job title provided, however, that the advertisement or notice also includes:

  • The job title which is the counterpart of the nonneutral job title; or
  • The designation M/W. Newspapers which print employment advertisements are encouraged to voluntarily print a box on their employment advertising pages indicating that the abbreviation M/W, when used, means men or women. +8 CSR 60-3.020(3).

The bona fide occupational qualification exception as to sex is strictly and narrowly construed. For instance, the exception does not apply to the refusal to hire individuals based on stereotyped characterizations of the sexes. +8 CSR 60-3.030(2).

In regard to sex, the application of the bona fide occupational qualification exception may be authorized by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights where it is necessary for authenticity or genuineness, such as for an actor or actress or fitters of intimate apparel. +8 CSR 60-3.020(4).

Written personnel policies relating to job policies and practices must expressly indicate that there shall be no discrimination against employees on account of sex. +8 CSR 60-3.030(7).

While the MHRA does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, an executive order prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and extends employment protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals working in the Executive Branch of Government in Missouri.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment: (1) requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex; and (2) requires a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state. . See Obergefell v. Hodges, +2015 U.S. LEXIS 4250 (U.S. June 26, 2015). Even though gender identity and sexual orientation are not explicitly recognized as protected classes under federal law, in light of this ruling it is best practice for an employer to review and revise its discrimination policies and provide equal treatment to individuals in same-sex marriages with regard to leave, benefits, compensation and other terms of employment.

Sex under the MHRA includes pregnancy, childbirth and related disabilities. Missouri courts have confirmed that a pregnancy-motivated termination is a cognizable claim under the MHRA. See Self v. Midwest Orthopedics, +272 S.W.3d 364 (Mo.App.W.D. 2008)(cert. denied, Jan. 27, 2009).

Missouri regulations also provide that a written or unwritten employment policy or practice which excludes applicants or employees based on pregnancy violates Missouri law and is only justified upon a showing of business necessity. +8 CSR 60-3.040(16).

Age

The MHRA prohibits discrimination against employees from age 40 through 69. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010(1).

Employers are prohibited from engaging in the discriminatory practices listed above because of an employee's or applicant's age (from age 40 through 69). +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.055.1; +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.070.

The MHRA allows for compulsory retirement of an employee 65 years of age or older who, for the two-year period immediately before retirement, is employed in a bona fide executive or a high policymaking position, if that employee is entitled to an immediate nonforfeitable annual retirement benefit of at least $44,000. +Mo. Rev. Stat.§ § 213.010(1).

Religion

The MHRA does not apply to corporations and associations owned and operated by religious or sectarian groups. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010(7). Neither the MHRA nor its accompanying regulations define religion.

A corporation or association must be 100 percent owned and operated by a religious or sectarian group and being a member of that religion or sect must be a requirement for employment for that corporation or association to be exempt as an employer under the MHRA. +8 CSR 60-3.010(9).

The Missouri Court of Appeals held that a nonprofit emergency treatment center and school for emotionally disturbed children was exempted from the MHRA because it was owned and operated by a religious group. Factors that the court examined included:

  • The Home was owned by the religious group;
  • The Home was subject to the supervision and control of the religious group;
  • The religious group invested the Home's funds and performed accounting services; and
  • The officers, directors and other functionaries of the Home were drawn from the religious group. See St. Louis Christian Home v. Mo. Com'n on Human Rights, +634 S.W.2d 508 (1982).

The Missouri Commission on Human Rights regulations regarding an employer's requirement to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs are nearly identical to those of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Employers are obligated to provide reasonable accommodations to the religious needs of employees and prospective employees in cases where such accommodations can be made without undue hardship to the employer's business. +8 CSR 60-3.050(1).An example of undue hardship is where the employee's work cannot be performed by another employee of substantially similar qualifications during the period of absence of the Sabbath observer. +8 CSR 60-3.050(1).

Disability

The MHRA defines disability as a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of an individual's major life activities, being regarded as having such an impairment, or a record of having such an impairment, which with or without reasonable accommodation does not interfere with performing the job. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010(4).

To prove disability, a plaintiff must show that the alleged impairment does not interfere with performing the job if an accommodation is made. See Devor v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas City, +943 S.W.2d 662 (Mo.App.W.D. 1997); Medley v. Valentine Radford Commc'ns, Inc., +173 S.W.3d 315 (Mo.App.W.D. 2005).

Specific Conditions as Disabilities

The MHRA does not consider current illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance to be a disability. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010(4); +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 195.010. But a person may have a disability if the person has successfully completed a supervised drug rehabilitation program and is no longer engaged in the illegal use of or addicted to drugs, is participating in a supervised drug rehabilitation program and is no longer using drugs, or is erroneously regarded as currently using or being addicted to drugs. +Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 213.010(4)(a).

The MHRA does not consider minor temporary illnesses, such as colds, sprains, or broken bones, to be physical impairments resulting in a disability. +8 CSR 60-3.060(B).

The provisions of the MHRA apply generally to individuals with HIV and AIDS. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 191.665 (1988).

Preemployment Inquiries

Prohibitions, specifically regarding preemployment inquiries regarding disability, may not apply if actions are based on a bona fide occupational qualification, although that term is not defined in the statute. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.055.1(3).

Reasonable Accommodations

Employers have an affirmative duty to provide individuals with disabilities with reasonable accommodations to enable them to perform the essential functions of their jobs. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.010(4); +8 CSR 60-3.060(1)(F); +8 CSR 60-3.060(1)(G); See City of Clayton v. Mo. Comm'n on Human Rights, +821 S.W.2d 521 (Mo.App.E.D. 1991).

Reasonable accommodation means that an employer shall make reasonable accommodation to the known limitations of an employee or applicant with a disability. Such accommodations can include making facilities readily accessible, job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, providing readers or interpreters, and other similar actions. +8 CSR 60-3.060(G)1; +8 CSR 60-3.060(G)2. The term undue hardship is not mentioned in the state regulation.

In determining whether an accommodation is reasonable, factors to be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • The nature and cost of the requested accommodation;
  • The size and nature of the business, including workforce and facilities;
  • Prior good-faith efforts to accommodate similar disabilities; and
  • The ownership interest in the proposed accommodation.

+8 CSR 60-3.060(G)3.

Administrative Remedies and Statute of Limitations

The MHRA provides the exclusive remedy for any and all unlawful employment practices. Before filing a lawsuit under the MHRA, a person must file a timely charge with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights within 180 days of the alleged unlawful treatment. If the employee or applicant fails to file a charge within 180 days of the alleged discrimination, Missouri courts lack jurisdiction to hear a lawsuit and the MCHR lacks jurisdiction to investigate the charge or take any action other than dismissal. An employer may also raise the timeliness defense at any time either during the administrative proceedings before the MCHR or in any subsequent litigation, regardless of whether the MCHR issued a right to sue letter and regardless of whether the employer asserted the defense before the MCHR. Additionally, the MCHR may issue a notice of right to sue only pursuant to the charging party's request for one +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.075.

A charging party's failure to check one or more boxes on the charge and allege a specific form of discrimination is fatal to the unreported claims. See Price v. Harrah's Maryland Heights Operating Co., +117 F. Supp. 2d 919 (E.D. Mo. 2000). For example, if a plaintiff does not include a MHRA retaliation claim in his or her initial charge, he or she must amend the complaint or file a new on to include a cause of action for retaliation. See Wallin v. Minn. Dep't of Corr., +153 F.3d 681 (8th Cir. 1998), cert. denied, +526 U.S. 1004 (1999)

The MCHR investigates the charge. If the investigator determines that there is probable cause for crediting the allegations, the investigator will attempt to remedy the unlawful practice through conference, conciliation and persuasion. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.075.3. If the investigator fails to resolve the issues, the MCHR may set a hearing.

If the MCHR finds at a hearing that the employer violated the MHRA, it may order the following, non-inclusive remedies: back pay, hiring, and reinstatement or upgrading.

If the MCHR determines that an employer has violated, or is about to violate, the aiding and abetting or retaliation provisions, the MCHR may assess a civil penalty against the employer. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.075.11(2). The amount of the civil penalty can be determined by the number and timing of the unlawful employment practices found by the MCHR. If the employer has not violated § 213.075.11(2) within five years from the filing of the complaint, the fine is not to exceed $2,000. But if the employer is found to have committed a violation of § 213.075.11(2) within five years, the fine may be up to $5,000. If the employer has committed two or more violations of § 213.075.11(2) within seven years from the date the complaint was filed, the fine may be up to $10,000. Section 213.075.11(2) (c). All civil penalties are paid to the human rights fund.

It is a class C misdemeanor under the MHRA to willfully violate an order by the MCHR. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.095.

Any person who is aggrieved by a final decision, finding, rule or order of the commission may obtain judicial review by filing a petition in the circuit court of the county of proper venue within thirty days after the mailing or delivery of the notice of the commission's final decision. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.085.2.

If the MCHR does not complete its administrative processing of a charge within 180 days, the charging party may request, and the MCHR shall deliver, a right to sue letter. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.111. But the MCHR may issue a right to sue letter at any time the case is open. If the MCHR finds no probable cause, the case is closed. A charging party can seek judicial review of a no probable cause determination within 30 days after the mailing or delivery of the notice. +8 CSR 60-2.025(7)(E).

The MHRA requires that all administrative remedies be exhausted before petitioning the courts for relief. See Alhalabi v. Missouri Department of Natural Resources, +300 S.W.3d 518 (Mo. App. E.D. 2009).

The statute of limitations for bringing a lawsuit in state court is 90 days from the date the MCHR mails the plaintiff a right to sue letter. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.111.1. A plaintiff must bring a suit no later than two years after the alleged cause of action occurred or its reasonable discovery by the plaintiff.

Jury Trial

All persons bringing actions under the MHRA in Missouri state courts have a constitutional right to a jury trial. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.111; See State ex rel. Diehl v. O'Malley, +95 S.W.3d 82 (Mo. banc 2003).

Missouri state courts are required to use the summary judgment mechanism to determine whether there is enough evidence for a case to proceed trial. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.101.

In all civil actions brought pursuant to the MHRA, a jury shall be given an instruction expressing the business judgment rule advising jurors that they may not find a defendant liable merely because they disagree with the defendant's decision or believe it to be harsh or unreasonable.   The jury instructions require an actual finding of some form of unlawful discrimination. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.101.

Damages

The MHRA places limits on the damages that can be awarded. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.111. A prevailing plaintiff may recover the following damages:

  • Actual back pay, and interest on back pay;
  • Damages for future pecuniary losses;
  • Damages for nonpecuniary losses; and
  • Punitive damages.

Punitive damages are capped on a per-plaintiff basis as follows:

  • For employers with 5 to 100 employees, not to exceed $50,000
  • For employers with 101-200 employees, not to exceed $100,000
  • For employers with 201-500 employees, not to exceed $200,000
  • For employers with 500+ employees, not to exceed $500,000

A court may award court costs and reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party, other than a state agency or commission or a local commission. A prevailing respondent, however, may only be awarded court costs and reasonable attorney fees upon a showing that the case is without foundation. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.111; +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 510.265.

Smokers' Rights Law

It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee or applicant because the individual uses lawful alcohol or tobacco products off the employer's premises during non-work hours unless the use interferes with the employee's duties or the operation of the business. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 290.145 (2006). The statute itself expressly provides that it creates no cause of action.

Employers may provide health insurance at a reduced rate for employees that do not use tobacco products.

Religious organizations and church-operated institutions, and not for profit organizations in which the principal business is health care promotion are exempt from this law.

Equal Pay

The Missouri equal pay statute makes it unlawful to pay women less than men in the same establishment for the same quantity and quality of the same classification of work. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 290.410; +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 290.440. Only females are covered under +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 290.400, but both males and females may bring claims under the MHRA.

There are exceptions when the payment is made pursuant to any of the following: seniority, length of service, ability, skill, difference in duties or services performed, difference in the shift or time of day worked, hours of work, or restrictions or prohibitions on lifting or moving objects in excess of specified weight, or other reasonable differentiation, or factors other than sex, when exercised in good faith. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 290.410.

If a female believes that the wages paid to her are less than the wages to which she is entitled under +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 290.400 she may file a complaint with the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. +8 CSR 20-6.010 (1975).

That statute of limitations for filing suit in circuit court for any claim brought under +Mo. Rev. Stat.§ 290.400 is six months.

It is also unlawful under the MHRA for public employers and private employers with 6 or more employees to discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age, or disability. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.055.

Lactation/Breastfeeding Protections and Accommodations

Although the law does not specifically apply to employers, Missouri has a statute providing that a mother may, with as much discretion as possible, breastfeed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be. A municipality may not enact an ordinance prohibiting or restricting a mother from breastfeeding or expressing breast milk in a public or private location. +Mo. Rev. Stat. §191.918.

Genetic Testing

It is unlawful in Missouri for an employer to use any genetic information or genetic test results of an employee or prospective employee to distinguish between, discriminate against, or restrict any right or benefit otherwise due to the individual. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 375.1306 (1998).

It is not unlawful for an employer to use genetic information with the written permission of the employee or prospective employee or to use genetic information when the information is directly related to a person's ability to perform assigned job responsibilities.

If the Director of the Missouri Department of Insurance believes that an employer has violated this provision, the director may provide notice of its intent to issue an order for penalties and set the order for a hearing, or may otherwise maintain a civil action in circuit court. A violation is a level two violation, meaning that the penalty is $1,000 per violation, up to $50,000 per year for multiple violations. +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 375.1306; +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 374.049.2(2); +Mo. Rev. Stat. § 374.046.

Medical Marijuana

Under Amendment 2 of the Missouri Constitution, individuals with a qualifying medical condition are allowed to use medical marijuana. A qualifying medical condition includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Cancer;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Glaucoma;
  • Intractible migraines unresponsive to medical treatment;
  • A chronic medical condition that causes severe, persistent, pain or persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those associated with multiple sclerosis, seizures, Parkinson's disease and Tourette's syndrome;
  • AIDS or HIV; or
  • Any terminal disease.

Missouri Con. art. XVI, § 1.2(15).

Under the law, an individual is not permitted to use medical marijuana in a public place.

An individual is also prohibited from doing the following:

  • Filing a claim against a current, former or prospective employer for wrongful discharge, discrimination, or similar causes of action based on the employer prohibiting the employee from being under the influence of marijuana while at work or disciplining the employee for working or attempting to work while under the influence of marijuana;
  • Undertaking a task under the influence of marijuana when doing so would constitute negligence or professional malpractice; or
  • Operating, navigating or being in actual physical control of a dangerous device or motor vehicle, aircraft or motorboat while under the influence of marijuana.

Employers are granted immunity for disciplining or terminating an employee or former employee for working or attempting to work while under the influence of marijuana.

See Employee Health: Missouri.

Local Requirements

St. Louis Discrimination

The City of St. Louis has an ordinance prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, age, religion, sex, familial status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry. +St. Louis, Missouri Code of Ordinances Sec. 3.44.080. The law applies to any person employing six or more persons exclusive of that person's parents, spouse or children. The penalty for violating the ordinance is a fine between $250 and $500 and/or imprisonment up to 90 days.

Columbia Ban the Box

Columbia prohibits employers with operations in the city from asking about an applicant's criminal history or conducting a criminal background check prior to making a conditional job offer. The law also encourages employers to not automatically ban job seekers with a criminal history.

This law covers private and public employers. A noncompliant employer may be subject to fines of up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to 30 days.

Limited exceptions are provided for the following situations:

  • Employers that must exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions from employment due to federal, state or local law or regulation;
  • Where a standard fidelity bond is required for a position and an applicant's conviction would disqualify the applicant from obtaining such a bond; and
  • Where employers license individuals under the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act.

Columbia Discrimination

The City of Columbia has an ordinance prohibiting employment discrimination based on sace, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, receipt of governmental assistance, alienage or citizenship status, status as a victim of sexual or domestic violence, or order of protection status. The ordinance applies to the City or any department, board, commission, or agency thereof, or any person who employs one or more individuals within the jurisdiction of the City, exclusive of parents, spouse or children of such person, and any person acting directly in the interest of an employer. sexual orientation is defined as "[m]ale or female homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality, by preference, practice or as perceived by others, but not including sexual preference or practice between an adult and a minor." It defines gender identity as "[t]he gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual's designated sex at birth." It is also unlawful for an employer, because of an individual's protected category, to refuse to hire, to terminate, or to otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to the individual's compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Violating the ordinance is a criminal offense with a possible penalty of up to a $1,000 fine or up to 30 days in jail. But it shall not be unlawful for any church or religious school or religious day care center to consider sexual orientation in any hiring or employment action. +Columbia, Missouri Code of Ordinances Sec. 12-34.

Kansas City Discrimination

Kansas City, Missouri, prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin or ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and age (if an individual is 40 years of age or older). It defines gender identity as "the actual or perceived appearance, expression, identity or behavior of a person as being male or female, whether or not that appearance, expression, identity or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's designated sex at birth." It defines sexual orientation as "actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality." The Kansas City ordinance applies to any person employing six or more employees. An employee is any individual employed by an employer but does not include "an individual employed by his parents, spouse or child or any individual employed to render services as a domestic in the home of the employer." Any person who engages in a prohibited discriminatory practice shall be guilty of an ordinance violation, punishable by a fine of not more than $500, by imprisonment of not more than 180 days, or by such fine and imprisonment. +Kansas City, Missouri Code of Ordinances Sec. 38-103.

Kansas City Ban the Box

Kansas City has a "ban the box" ordinance that applies to private employers with six or more employees. The ordinance bans an employer from inquiring about an applicant's criminal history until after it has been determined that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position, and only after the applicant has been interviewed for the job. The law restricts an employer from basing hiring or promotional decisions on an applicant's criminal history unless the employer can show that it considered the frequency, recentness and severity of the criminal record and that the record was reasonably related to the duties and responsibilities of the position. See Interviewing and Selecting Job Candidates: Missouri; Preemployment Screening and Testing: Missouri.

Future Developments

Kansas City Salary History Restrictions

In an effort to promote pay equity, Kansas City has enacted a law restricting salary history inquiries, effective October 31, 2019, See Employment Offer: Missouri.

Ordinance No. 190380.

There are no other developments to report at this time. Continue to check XpertHR regularly for the latest information on this and other topics.

Additional Resources

Employee Management > EEO - Discrimination

Missouri Commission on Human Rights

St. Louis Civil Rights Enforcement Agency