The loss of a job can be a devastating and life changing event. It can take a toll on your mental and physical health, as well as your financial pocket book leading to many dire consequences. Under certain circumstances, the termination of your employment could also be unlawful.
The Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) is the federal equivalent to regulating employment discrimination in Missouri. Unfortunately, many employees are considered “at will” meaning they can be fired for any reason, no reason or whatever reason at all. In order to qualify for a wrongful termination under the MHRA, the employer must have fired you for a reason based upon your age, gender, disability or religion or have created a sexual harassment/hostile work environment for the employee. Should any of these conditions exist, a claim under the MHRA may be worth pursuing.
However, before jumping into a court proceeding, the Missouri Commission of Human Rights (MCHR) has created an administrative grievance process that must be followed before filing suit. Within 180 days of the adverse employment decision or the discrimination, an employee must file a charge of discrimination with the MCHR opening an administrative proceeding. Due to the extensive investigation that occurs when a charge is filed, the MCHR typically will assign the case for handling through the administrative process and potentially mediation.
Should the employee at any time become frustrated with the administrative process or wish to sue in a state or federal court to litigate their rights, a right to sue letter can be requested terminating the administrative proceeding and then allowing the employee to file suit. Again, strict timelines are applicable as a lawsuit must be filed within 90 days after requesting of the right to sue letter. If the employee fails to comply with these procedural requirements, they could run the risk of foregoing any right to prosecute the claim.
While there are many other procedural hoops and hiccups that must be followed, it is best to contact an attorney immediately if you feel you have suffered discrimination or a hostile work environment in the workplace or if your business needs assistance defending a claim of this nature.