What is Discrimination?

Employment discrimination (which is made unlawful and prohibited by Title VII and similar State statutes) occurs when a Respondent (employer) takes some action or makes an employment decision because of the applicant-employee’s race or sex, or due to another protected category. The distinction between unfair and unlawful discrimination rests on the grounds or basis upon which the employer’s decision was made and is very important for your understanding of this area.

There are four elements to the definition of unlawful discrimination under the Missouri Human Rights Act:

  1. a Respondent, a covered person or entity which may be the employer, an employment agency or a union;
  2. an employment decision, the covered action such as firing, failure to hire, promote or transfer;
  3. a prohibited basis, a covered category such as race, religion, sex, age or disability; and
  4. a causal connection between the decision-action and the basis upon which it was made.

It is the Complainants’ responsibility to provide proof of the unlawful discrimination alleged in the complaint.

This definition is not intended to be an all-encompassing dissertation on discrimination law. This section is written for employment discrimination, but these legal theories are readily transferable to housing and public accommodation cases.


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