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Summary Judgment and Jury Verdict Obtained for Employer in Age Discrimination, Retaliation Case and Then Both Are Upheld On Appeal

An executive’s department and job were eliminated in a reorganization. Our client found another position for him, albeit at a lower salary. The employee delayed filing a charge of discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights for three years.  He then filed a lawsuit challenging his salary adjustment and a series of promotion denials over the entire three year period. The trial court granted summary judgment on all claims outside the 180 day charge filing period under the Missouri Human Rights Act. After a two-week jury trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client on all remaining timely claims.

The plaintiff appealed both the jury verdict and the summary judgment ruling. The latter raised important issues regarding the “continuing violation” theory. When applicable, this theory allows an employee to pursue otherwise untimely related claims if he asserts at least one timely claim. The plaintiff argued for a result that in many cases would have effectively eliminated the 180 day charge filing period under the Missouri Human Rights Act. We persuaded the Missouri Court of Appeals to adopt a reasonable and limited view of the continuing violation theory. The court held the theory did not apply to discrete acts such as salary determinations and promotion denials, but only to claims premised upon “day-to-day” discriminatory events such as hostile environment harassment. The Missouri Supreme Court denied plaintiff’s appeal so the appellate court’s ruling is now the law of the State of Missouri.

Tisch v. DST Systems, Inc., 366 S.W.3d 345 (Mo. App. 2012).

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