Thursday, October 29, 2015

Appeals Court: Sexual Orientation Not Covered By Missouri's Ban On Sex Discrimination In Employment

In Pittman v. Cook Paper Recycling Corp., (MO App., Oct. 27, 2015), a Missouri appeals court in a 2-1 decision held that the Missouri Human Rights Act does not bar employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. At issue was a hostile work environment claim by a former male employee of a recycling company. Judge Welsh's opinion held:
The clear meaning prohibiting discrimination based upon "sex" under the Missouri Human Rights Act intended by the Missouri legislature concerns discrimination based upon a person's gender and has nothing to do with sexual orientation.
Judge Clayton in a brief opinion concurred with the result only.  Judge Gabbert dissented, saying:
Where our legislature used the broad term “sex,” and that term has been defined in many realms and most recently by the EEOC to include sexual orientation, I prefer to believe that if one is looking to the legislature for guidance, the legislature’s failure to exclude sexual orientation is more telling than its failure to act to include.
Columbia Daily Tribune reports on the decision.