JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Supreme Court has affirmed that Missouri law prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of an employee’s failure to conform to sex-based stereotypes, bringing Missouri in line with federal employment law and the legal protections offered in most states. The decision agrees with an earlier decision for the Missouri Court of Appeals in the same case.
In February 2018, ACLU of Missouri filed two amicus briefs – one on behalf of Rene Frost and Harold Lampley’s anti-discrimination charge with the Missouri Human Rights Commission and the other on behalf of R.M.A., a transgender student in the Blue Springs School district whose request for accommodations was denied by the school district. Both cases claim discrimination because of sex.
“Members of the LGBTQ community should enjoy the same protections against sex-based discrimination as everyone else,” said Tony Rothert, legal director, ACLU of Missouri. “Excluding LGBTQ individuals from legal protections was justified by outdated, destructive stereotypes and ignored the lived reality of thousands of people in our state.”
Currently, Missouri’s Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations for other protected categories, including race, sex, and national origin. But this does not explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity, leaving too many vulnerable and unprotected against discrimination. Today’s decision is yet another step toward improving the clarity of Missouri’s nondiscrimination stance, but this is not where the work should end.
“Discrimination based on gender expression and orientation is rooted in ignorant and incorrect assumptions,” said Jeffrey Mittman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Allowing discriminatory policies and laws to stand harms our LGBTQ neighbors. We should all be working toward a more inclusive Missouri – and through legislation like the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act we hope to bring an end to cases like this one and give Missouri’s LGBTQ individuals clear and defined legal protections.”
This decision falls in line with federal court decisions finding federal law against sex discrimination protect lesbian, gay, and transgender people. Time and again, courts have refused to allow generalizations about individuals—or who they love—to play any role in employment or accommodations decisions.