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2726 S. Brentwood Blvd. St. Louis MO 63144

Discrimination Claims

Wrongful Termination and Discrimination Claims in Missouri

Just because a termination appears unfair does not mean it is actionable under Missouri or federal law. Generally, an employer is not required to provide a reason for terminating an employee. In Missouri, unless an employee has an employment contract, he or she is termed an "at will" employee. "At will" means that the employment relationship can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, so long as the basis for termination is not illegal. Examples of unlawful bases for termination include age, disability, sex, race, religion, retaliation for asserting a legal right, whistleblower actions, union activity, political activity, and filing a Worker's Compensation claim.

If an employee has an employment contract, the ability to terminate such an employee is based on the terms of the contract. Commonly, employment contracts require termination only upon good or "just cause." The Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley frequently examines the basis upon which a termination decision was made to determine if there is any liability for a claim of wrongful termination.

The Missouri Human Rights Act

The Missouri Human Right Act is a state law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, national origin, disability, religion and retaliation. These discrimination laws prohibit an employer from taking an "adverse employment action" against an employee based upon the above-stated protected classifications. Adverse employment actions include:

  • Refusal to Hire
  • Discharge/ Termination
  • Lay-off
  • Suspension
  • Unequal Discipline
  • Poor Performance Review
  • Demotion
  • Harassment
  • Adverse Transfer or Shift Charge
  • Pay Reduction
  • Reduction in Hours
  • Negative References

A claim of retaliation is based upon an employer taking an employment action against an employee as a result of the employee asserting certain legal rights. These legal rights include filing a claim of discrimination or reporting discriminatory conduct.

Federal Employment Discrimination Laws

In 1964, Congress passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal law prohibits employment discrimination in the workplace based upon particular protected classifications. The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, and religion. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits disability discrimination. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects individuals over the age of 40 from age discrimination. Title VII provides a number of rights and remedies to the victims of employment discrimination. An employee is commonly entitled to a jury trial relating to claims of employment discrimination and damages if successful at trial. Available damages include:

  • Back-Pay
  • Reinstatement
  • Front-Pay
  • Compensatory Damages
  • Punitive Damages
  • Injunctive Relief
  • Attorneys' Fees

Filing a Charge of Discrimination

An employee in Missouri making a claim of employment discrimination must usually first file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or Missouri Commission on Human Rights. These agencies investigate claims of discrimination made by employees. Once the EEOC or Missouri Commission on Human Rights has completed its investigation, an employee typically receives a right to sue letter and is permitted to file a discrimination lawsuit in court. Typically, a skilled attorney is needed to properly assert all appropriate claims and file a lawsuit on behalf of the employee. A company is required to have legal counsel to defend itself in a discrimination claim filed in Court.

Time limits

The discrimination laws in Missouri have very short and very strict time limits. An employee must commonly file a charge of discrimination no later than 180 days from the last act of discrimination under Missouri law. If an employee misses this deadline by even one day, a claim is probably lost in Missouri.


Back-Pay is an amount claimed for lost wages and other benefits of employment to the date of trial. An employee is required to mitigate or limit lost wages by seeking new employment following termination of employment.


Reinstatement is not commonly awarded to employees but courts do have some ability to reinstate an employee to former position of employment under particular circumstances.


Front-pay damages are awarded to compensate an employee for wages and benefits of employment that an employee may have earned into the future as a result of wrongful termination beyond the date of trial. The trial court commonly makes this determination following trial and evidence may be present to the court on the issue of Front-pay damages.

Compensatory and Emotional Distress Damages

Compensatory and Emotional Distress damages include all other losses beyond monetary loss that result from a wrongful termination. Emotional distress damages are commonly claimed in discrimination cases and medical evidence may be presented to support such a claim.

Punitive damages

With proof of willful and wanton conduct, an employer may be ordered to pay punitive damages. These damages are intended to punish an employer for highly inappropriate conduct and to avoid such conduct from occurring in the future.

Injunctive relief

Injunctive relief is a court order entered against an employer ordering the end of particular discriminatory employment practices. The order may require certain standards to be put into place or particular training be provided to employees to end particular employment practices.

Attorneys' fees

Attorneys' fees are only obtainable by the plaintiff's attorneys upon prevailing at trial in an employment discrimination case. Because of the amount of time and resources that are often put into a discrimination claim, a large amount of attorneys' fees may be incurred. The Court often reviews the requested amount of attorneys' fees and makes a determination as to the appropriate amount of the award based upon the documentation presented to the Court.

Contact Our Labor and Employment Law Firm

To set up a consultation, please contact Kevin J. Dolley at (314)645-4100 or fill out our quick contact us box. All legal consultations are held strictly confidential.

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The Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley represents clients in labor law, employment law and employment discrimination matters throughout the State of Missouri, including St. Louis, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Boone County, Jefferson County, Lincoln County, Jackson County, Phelps County, Franklin County, Ste. Genevieve, St. Clair and the Cities of St. Louis, Kansas City, St. Charles, O'Fallon, Lake St. Louis, Hillsboro, Troy, Clayton, Rolla, Columbia, Jefferson City, Kirksville, Farmington, Cuba, Augusta, Union, Maryland Heights, Cape Girardeau and Springfield.

Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley, LLC - Missouri Employment Lawyer
Located at 2726 South Brentwood Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63144. View Map
Phone: (314) 684-8180 | Local Phone: (314) 645-4100.