Employment discrimination is when someone (or a group of people) has been treated unfairly and/or differently by other people at work because of their race, sex, religion, national origin, or disability.
Employment Discrimination in Missouri
In Missouri, the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) makes it illegal to discriminate in any aspect of employment because of an individual’s race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability or age (40 through 69). Ways you can be discriminated against include:
- Being fired
- Compensation (including fringe benefits; pay retirement plans; or disability leave)
- Assignment or classification of employees
- Transferred or promotion
- Use of company facilities
Illegal discriminatory practices under the MHRA also include:
- Harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, or age
- Retaliating against an individual for filing a complaint of discrimination, participating in an investigation or hearing, or opposing discriminatory practices
- Denying employment opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular race, religion, national origin, or an individual with a disability. Title VII also prohibits discrimination because of participation in schools or places of worship associated with a particular racial, ethnic, or religious group
If you believe you have been discriminated against and want the Missouri Commission on Human Rights to investigate or if you want to sue in court, you need to file a complaint and an attorney can assist and guide you through the process. Complaints under the MHRA must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discrimination. Federal law allows 300 days for filing employment discrimination complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Employment Discrimination in Kansas
Kansas law also makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of color, sex, religion, race, ancestry, disability, age, pregnancy/childbirth, and national origin. (See Section 44-1009 of the Kansas Statutes.) For you to challenge a decision your employer made, you must disclose that it was one or more of those criteria that contributed to your employer’s decision.
Employers are legally obligated to keep the workplace free from these offensive behaviors and actions. A discrimination claim can be filed either with the Kansas Human Rights Commission (KHRC) or the EEOC. The two agencies have a “work-sharing agreement,” which means that they cooperate with each other to process claims. You will not have to file a claim with both agencies as long as you indicate to one of the agencies that you want to “cross-file” the claim with the other agency. While the EEOC enforces federal law which covers only employers with 15 or more employees, the KHRC covers you if your workplace has between six and 14 employees. To preserve your state law claim, you have six months from the date you believe you were discriminated against to file your claim with the KHRC. As is the case in Missouri (because you are dealing with federal law), you must file with the EEOC within 300 days from when you were discriminated against.
Once you file your charge, the EEOC will give you a copy of your charge and a charge number. Within ten days, the EEOC will then send a notice and a copy of the charge to the employer. At that point, the EEOC may ask you mediate with your employer; may ask the employer to provide a written answer to your charge and answer questions related to your claim, then your charge will be given to an investigator; or dismiss the claim if your claim was filed out of time or the EEOC did not have jurisdiction. If your case can be resolved by the EEOC or KHRC, it may not be necessary to hire an attorney but it’s a good idea to have one by your side from the beginning. If you are unable to settle your entire case through the EEOC or KHRC process, you may then be able to file a lawsuit in court.