Evolution of the Missouri Human Rights Act and the Development of the 'Contributing Factor' Analysis
49 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2012
Date Written: April 6, 2012
For years, Missouri courts have followed Federal Title VII precedent in order to interpret the Missouri Human Rights Act. The extremely similar language in both acts initially supported this interpretation. However, based upon new precedent highlighting minor differences, the creation of a new application requirement in the Missouri jury instructions, and some confusion regarding the textual meaning of the causation element, the Missouri Supreme Court announced a new standard for employment discrimination law in the case of Daugherty v. City of Maryland Heights. As a result of this new “contributing factor” standard, Missouri state courts and federal courts applying Missouri law have expressed confusion in the application of this new causation element. In addition, the Missouri legislature has expressed a clear opinion that the Missouri Supreme Court’s standard was not intended through repeated attempts to amend the Missouri Human Rights Act.
In this paper, I examined the history of federal Title VII employment discrimination law and its application to the Missouri Human Rights Act. From there, I discuss the ingredients that made the new “contributing factor” standard possible as well as possible justifications for the unique interpretation. Finally, I end with the signs of confusion among the courts and the Missouri legislatures repeated attempts to amend the act.
Keywords: Missouri Human RIghts Act, Title VII, employment discrimination, civil rights, Missouri approved Jury instruction, contributing factor, motivating factor, judicial interpretation
JEL Classification: J7, J70, J71, J78, J79
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation