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Request for Accommodation Will Not Support Retaliation Claim Under Missouri Human Rights Act, SCOMO Holds

Under Missouri law, a request for accommodation cannot serve as the basis for a retaliation claim.  Last month, the Supreme Court of Missouri issued a unanimous opinion in Lin v. Ellis, No. SC97641, 2020 WL 203145, at *5, — S.W.3d —- (Mo. banc Jan. 14, 2020) (per curiam), holding that “a mere request for an accommodation does not fall within the plain language of either the opposition or participation clause of” the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”), Mo. Rev. Stat. § 213.070.1(2).

The Lin case arose out of an employee’s request from her employer to accommodate her request to avoid tasks that aggravated her chronic back pain after being diagnosed with two herniated discs.  Without requesting a doctor’s note, the employer provided the requested accommodation.  Subsequently, the employee’s back pain worsened, and she asked to be excused from performing certain tasks that required her to work at a bench with her back bent for extended periods of time.  The employer accommodated this request too and assigned her work that did not exacerbate her herniated discs.

After an internal complaint was filed against the employee, the employer asked human resources to initiate a process with a view toward terminating the employee.  Simultaneously, the employer was informed that funding for the employee’s work under a grant was set to expire, thereby eliminating funding for the employee’s position.  After the employer informed the employee that the funding for her work was set to expire, and after discussing other work the employee could perform in light

Supreme Court Strikes Down Union-Shop Provisions in Public Sector, Unlikely to Follow Suit in Private Sector

June 27, 2018

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On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled a 41-year-old legal precedent to hold that states may not compel public employees to contribute any money to the labor union that represents them.  In Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, the Court held that public employees have a First Amendment right not to contribute money to a labor union and that states have no compelling interest sufficient to overcome that free speech right.

The plaintiff in that case was an Illinois state employee represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31.  He refused to join that union because he opposed many of the positions that the union advocated, including positions that the union took in collective bargaining.  But Illinois, like many states, requires public employees represented by a union to pay an “agency fee” consisting of the portion of union dues (in this case 78%) that the union estimates are directly related to its duties as collective bargaining representative.

The Court held that public sector unions in labor negotiations engage in speech on matters of great public concern and that requiring employees to pay an agency fee to the union is essentially compelling them to support the union’s speech – whether or not they agree with it.  The Court also concluded that a state’s desire for “labor peace” and its concern that public unions might collapse under the weight of “free riders” are not sufficient to justify the violation of the employees’ First Amendment rights.

This

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