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2726 S. Brentwood Blvd. St. Louis MO 63144

Summary Judgment As Part of Employment Discrimination Cases

The most dramatic change in employment discrimination litigation is the federal judiciary’s increased use of summary judgment to resolve cases. Cases are often won or lost at depositions and in summary judgment filings and not in the courtroom or before the jury. 

The Litigation Process

After discovery is completed in an employment discrimination claim, the employer, through legal counsel, will almost always file a motion for summary judgment.  This motion is an argument to the court that the employee cannot prove his case and that the case need not be tried before a jury.  The summary judgment briefs will include lengthy legal arguments and attach transcripts from depositions and other evidence to try to convince the judge that no reasonable juror could find in favor of the employee.  If the court rules against the motion for summary judgment, the matter proceeds to trial.  If the court rules for the employer, the employee will need to file an appeal to continue the lawsuit. 

Federal Court Summary Judgment Standards

A party is entitled to summary judgment (i.e., to have the case dismissed before trial) under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure if the court decides, after reviewing the evidence, that there is no "genuine issue of material fact" requiring a trial.

The Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley's Victory Before the Missouri Supreme Court
A Seminal Change in Missouri Employment Law

In Missouri circuit courts, the summary judgment standard is analyzed in a significantly different manner than in federal courts.  In 2007, the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley argued for and established before the Missouri Supreme Court a changed employment discrimination standard under the Missouri Human Rights Act at the summary judgment stage in Daugherty vs. City of Maryland Heights.  In Daugherty, the Missouri Supreme Court determined that Missouri's discrimination safeguards under the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) are not identical to the federal standards.

The Missouri Supreme Court noted in Daugherty that prior cases in Missouri had analyzed employment cases at summary judgment in a similar way to federal courts.  The Court, however, noted that with the allowance in 2003 of jury trial in employment cases in Missouri and following adoption of a pattern verdict-directing instruction for MHRA employment discrimination claims, Daugherty provided an opportunity to review the analysis applied in MHRA cases. The court determined that in Missouri a claim should survive summary judgment if there was an alleged genuine issues of material fact as to whether discrimination was a "contributing factor" in the employer's termination decision.  The Court continued that applying the "contributing factor" standard in determining summary judgment under the MHRA results in the following analysis: the plaintiff's claims for discrimination can survive summary judgment if there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether discrimination was a "contributing factor" in the employer's termination decision.   

Changing Standards in Labor and Employment Law

Because of the continuing changes in employment discrimination standards in Missouri and federal courts, legal counsel that is knowledgeable and that has developed such legal standards is necessary to effectively litigate an employment discrimination claim.  To set up a consultation, please contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley at (314)645-4100 or by email at kevin@dolleylaw.com.  All legal consultations are held strictly confidential.  For experienced legal counsel in labor law, employment law and business law matters, please contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley

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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.
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