Missouri’s anti-discrimination laws provide protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age, and genetic information. The Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) is the state law that prohibits such discrimination and is enforced by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR). You are also protected by federal law, as well, and with the help of your Kansas City employment attorney, you can file a successful claim for employment discrimination. Read on to learn more about the process.

How to File a Successful Employment Discrimination Claim in Kansas City, Missouri

Working With an Employment Attorney

Your claim will always have a better chance of success if you work with an employment lawyer from the outset. A Kansas City employment attorney will know all the relevant state and local laws, how best to file, what evidence you will need, and how to best present that evidence to ensure you get a good result.

Preparing to File

You’ll need to gather comprehensive documentation to support your claim, like written complaints you made to human resources or any other correspondence with your employer regarding the discriminatory behavior. Before you file any legal claim, you should also file an internal complaint with your company’s human resources department, if possible. This step is often required under company policies and can sometimes resolve issues without needing to escalate them externally. You may struggle with your legal claim, as well, if you haven’t followed this step first.

If your complaint does not lead to a satisfactory resolution or if you face retaliation for filing it, these actions should also be documented as part of your case. If you feel you would be physically endangered by following this process, be sure to speak with your attorney before beginning.

Where to File Your Claim

In Missouri, you have two primary avenues for filing your employment discrimination complaint. The first is the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR), which is the state agency responsible for enforcing the MHRA and handling claims under state law. The second is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws.

Fortunately, the two agencies have a “work-sharing agreement,” which means that filing with one will automatically cross-file with the other, minimizing the need for multiple filings. This streamlined process aims to ensure Missouri employees get the full legal recourse needed. However, Missouri law does cover a few areas that federal law does not when it comes to discrimination, so be sure to ask your lawyer about the right place to initially file.

Understanding Time Limits

In discrimination cases, time is of the essence. Both Missouri and federal laws impose deadlines for filing a charge, and missing these deadlines puts your case in jeopardy. Under the MHRA, you must file with the MCHR within 180 days of the discriminatory act. With the EEOC, the deadline is extended, allowing you to file within 300 days of the discriminatory act. It’s important to act quickly in either case, as that time will go by faster than you think.

How to File a Charge with the MCHR or EEOC

The process for initiating a charge with either the MCHR or EEOC involves a lot of paperwork and is best done with a lawyer’s help and advice. You can choose to file in person, by mail, or online, but if you opt to visit an office in person, it’s advisable to first schedule an appointment to discuss your situation with an intake counselor.

Filing by mail involves sending a letter to the agency that clearly outlines your contact information, the details of the discriminatory act(s), and your explanation of why you believe you were discriminated against. Be sure to sign and date your letter. The EEOC also offers a convenient online portal where you can submit a charge through an online inquiry form.

Regardless of the method you choose, be prepared to provide as much specific information as possible. Your lawyer will help you understand what evidence you need and what will help make your case most compelling. At the very least, you will need to provide the names of all individuals involved, dates and times of the alleged discrimination, descriptions of the incidents, and any relevant documents or witness statements that could support your claim. The more detailed your initial charge, the better equipped the MCHR or EEOC will be to begin their investigation into the matter.

The Investigation Process

Once you’ve filed your charge, the MCHR or EEOC will conduct a thorough investigation. They will look through your evidence and gather more if needed, interview witnesses, and review records from your employer. The agency may also request a formal response from your employer regarding the allegations. During the investigation, you’ll have opportunities to provide further information or clarify your statements as needed.

Depending on the case, this investigation can take up to several months. If the agency finds that discrimination likely occurred, they will attempt to resolve the matter through conciliation or mediation. Conciliation is a form of negotiation where the agency helps reach a mutually agreeable resolution between you and your employer. It’s an opportunity to achieve a resolution without proceeding to litigation, which can be lengthy and costly.

Possible Outcomes of the Investigation

No Cause Finding

If the agency doesn’t find enough evidence to support your claim, a “no cause” finding may be issued, and this essentially closes your case. If you’ve been working with an experience employment lawyer from the beginning, however, this result is unlikely. Your lawyer will be able to tell you right away whether you have a case and will not urge you to file a claim if, in their experience, it is not likely to succeed.


If the agency finds that discrimination likely occurred, they’ll work with both you and your employer to negotiate a resolution. This could involve remedies like compensation for lost wages, reinstatement to your job, changes to workplace policies, or other measures aimed at addressing and preventing future discrimination. Talk with your lawyer about whether you want to take part in this process and whether it’s likely the best avenue for redress in your case.

Right to Sue Letter

If conciliation fails, or if the agency determines that a lawsuit is the best course of action, they will issue a “Right to Sue” letter. This document gives you the legal right to file a lawsuit against your employer in either state or federal court to seek further remedies.

Building Your Case for Court

Your lawyer will help you build a compelling case by further developing the evidence gathered during the MCHR process and potentially conducting additional discovery. Discovery might involve getting witness depositions, making requests for documents, and asking for written interrogatories directed at your employer. This phase may uncover additional evidence and strengthen your case.

Your attorney will then formulate the legal arguments that explain the details of your case and prepare you for testimony. They will ensure that all filings are timely and that you meet all legal requirements. Finally, they will, of course, argue persuasively for you in court and defend your evidence against the other side.

At Holman Schiavone, we have extensive experience handling employment discrimination cases in Kansas City, Missouri. We understand both state and federal discrimination laws, and we’re committed to fighting for the rights of employees who have been unfairly treated. If you believe your employer has discriminated against you, contact us at Holman Schiavone, LLC now for a free consultation.