Frequently Asked Questions

I was hired for a position and when I reported to work, I was told that they had changed their mind. Is there anything I can do?

Missouri is an "Employment at Will" state. An employee can be hired and fired at any time for any reason. However, if the reason is because of a person′s race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability or age (40-69), it may be a violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act.

return to top                                              300

Can my employer fire me for missing work even if I have a doctor′s excuse?

Depending on the severity of the illness, the employee may qualify for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). If they do not, then no protection exists except for categories covered by the Missouri Human Rights Act.

return to top                                              301

My boss is treating me differently than other employees. I am constantly being yelled at, criticized and harassed. Is there anything you can do?

MCHR cannot investigate these claims unless the boss′ actions are due to one of our covered categories. There are no laws to protect employees from this kind of treatment unless the boss is only directing this behavior toward one protected class of workers and not others.

return to top                                              302

I hurt my back. Doesn′t my employer have to provide me with an accommodation?

Not unless your condition substantially limits one or more major life activity. These are defined as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, breathing, etc. Working has also been defined as a major life activity. Accommodations for disabilities of employees must also be reasonable to the situation.

return to top                                              303

I filed a complaint with the EEOC or with HUD. Do I have to file one with MCHR too?

No, if you were employed in Missouri or rent or buy property in Missouri, the EEOC or HUD will automatically dual-file the complaint with MCHR as part of our Dual-Filing Agreement with these two federal agencies.

return to top                                              304

Can an employer refuse to hire me because I am pregnant?

No, not as long as you are qualified and capable of performing the essential functions of the job.

return to top                                              305

Can my employer talk to me any kind of way?

There is no law against a rude employer unless the employer makes offensive racial or sexual comments or offensive comments about age, disability or other protected categories.

return to top                                              306

What if I believe my former employer is "black-balling" me when a potential new employer is calling for a reference?

This is not necessarily illegal. However, if the employer is doing this because you filed a discrimination complaint against them, this could be considered retaliation and that is covered under the Missouri Human Rights Act.

return to top                                              307

Am I required to tell my employer about sexual harassment I am experiencing before filing a discrimination complaint with the MCHR?

Yes and No. If the sexual harassment is "quid pro quo" sexual harassment, meaning sex has been made a term or condition of your employment by a supervisor, you do not have to tell them first. If the sexual harassment is "hostile environment," you have to tell a person in a position of authority UNLESS you can prove that the employer has a record of not doing anything even if you report it. If you do not report a "hostile environment" complaint, the employer MIGHT be able to get out of liability.

return to top                                              308

Can a church advertise a position seeking a candidate who belongs to a certain religion?

Yes. Religious groups are exempt from the Human Rights Act. “Employer” includes the state, or any political or civil subdivision thereof, or any person employing six or more persons within the state, and any person directly acting in the interest of an employer, but does not include corporations and associations owned and operated by religious or sectarian groups; However, the exemption under federal law is narrower.

return to top                                              309

What kind of questions shouldn′t I ask in an interview?

Any questions about race, ethnic origin, age, or sex are prohibited. If the person has a recognizable disability, an employer can ask if the person will need a specific accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job.

return to top                                              310

Do I have to let a pregnant employee work until she has a doctor′s release, or can I relieve her of her duties now?

The employee should be allowed to work until her doctor tells her she must quit work.

return to top                                              311

I have an employee who is on maternity leave. Do I have to keep her position open?

Yes, if the employee is covered by FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act). Also, if you keep positions open for other temporary medical problems, you must do the same for pregnancy. Otherwise it can be considered as treating an employee who is pregnant differently based on her sex.

return to top                                              312

What posters are required to be posted by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR)?

The MCHR requires every employer, labor organization and employment agency in the state to post an MCHR Equal Employment Opportunity poster in a place where they put other employee notices or in a conspicuous place where employees will have access to it. Download Poster

return to top                                              313

How long do I have to file a complaint?

A complaint must be filed with MCHR within 180 days from the last date of discrimination. If it is an employment situation that happened more than 180 days ago but less than 300, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can investigate your complaint. If it is a housing situation that occurred more than 180 days ago but less than 365, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can investigate.

return to top                                              314

How do I get a copy of my commission complaint file?

You must make a written request that includes name of file and file number. The Commission can only release copies of your file after the case is closed. Send your request to:

Missouri Commission on Human Rights
P.O. Box 1129
Jefferson City, MO 65102-1129.

return to top                                              315

Do you represent me?

No. MCHR is a neutral fact-finding agency during investigations. MCHR′s job is to investigate each complaint to determine if there is evidence that a violation of the law has occurred. If it is determined that there is probable cause to believe discrimination has occurred, then the state has an interest in preventing and eliminating discrimination.

return to top                                              316

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is treating a person, or a group of persons worse than others are treated under the same or similar circumstances, or denying a person or persons the same benefits or privileges provided to others because of that person′s race, color, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, religion or disability or familial status (families with children).

return to top                                              317

What is familial status discrimination?

It is the practice of treating families with children under the age of 18 differently with regard to the terms and conditions of housing. It is also illegal to advertise "no children" in ads for housing.

return to top                                              318

Am I covered if I believe that I was discriminated against because I am gay?

No. The Missouri Human Rights Act does not offer protection based on sexual orientation. However, the cities of St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia protect against sexual orientation discrimination.

return to top                                              319

Will the Commission on Human Rights and EEOC or HUD both investigate my complaint?

No, only one agency investigates and then shares the results with the other agency. Either MCHR, HUD or EEOC will determine who will investigate the complaint.

return to top                                              320

How long does an investigation usually take?

This varies depending upon the complexity of the case and how cooperative the parties are. We usually complete an investigation within six months, although it could be much shorter or longer than this.

return to top                                              321

What are the remedies to a discrimination complaint?

These vary depending upon the alleged harm that occurred. You can get back-pay in discharge cases, a job in failure to hire cases, the apartment in failure to rent cases and you can also get a monetary remedy for deprivation of civil rights, emotional suffering and humiliation.

return to top                                              322

What if I want to settle my case rather than proceed to court?

We always encourage the parties to consider settlement. In fact, shortly after the complaint is filed, we will ask the parties to discuss settlement with our Early Resolution staff. Settlement effectively ends the case.

return to top                                              323

Who has the burden of proving discrimination?

The complainant must prove they are a member of a protected category, that something bad happened to them and that there is a connection between the bad thing and their protected category. The burden then shifts to the respondent to articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for what happened. At that point the burden shifts back to the complainant to show the reason given by the respondent was not the real reason, but a pretext to discriminate.

return to top                                              324

What is the legal definition of sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined as any behavior of a sexual nature that is unwelcomeand creates a hostile, offensive or intimidating work enviornment. It includes verbal comments as well as physical touching, as well as "dirty" pictures or lewd jokes. Situations are analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Another kind of sexual harassment is when a supervisor tries to extort sexual favors for subordinates by threatening adverse actions or promising rewards,

return to top                                              325