Share
News & Insights

Court Imposes Personal Liability on Supervisors

Alert
3.09.09

On February 24, 2009, the Supreme Court of Missouri determined, for the first time, that supervisors can be individually liable for violations of the Missouri Human Rights Act.

In the case of Hill v. Ford Motor Co., the plaintiff sued her employer and her supervisor for sexual harassment and retaliation and based her claims on the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA). The trial court had granted summary judgment to the employer and the supervisor, concluding, among other things, that the supervisor could not be personally liable under the MHRA. The Supreme Court of Missouri reversed, holding that the MHRA was "clear," and that it "intended to reach not just the corporate or public employer, but any person acting directly in the interest of the employer." The Court also concluded that "a supervisory employee clearly falls into that category."

Now, in light of the Hill decision, the supervisor, as well as the employer, can be liable for violations of the MHRA. The MHRA prohibits discrimination (which includes harassment) based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age or disability. The MHRA also prohibits discrimination based on association with a member of a protected class, and retaliation for opposing discrimination (such as through filing complaints or participating in an investigation). The decision highlights the importance of training supervisors on all aspects of discrimination and retaliation.

What This Means To You
Because personal liability for supervisors now exists in Missouri, it is even more important that employers continue to ensure that their supervisors are properly trained on how to keep the workplace free from discrimination and retaliation, as liability now rests not only with the company, but with the supervisors themselves.

Contact Info

Denver
Mary Stuart - 303.749.7207

Springfield
Virginia Fry - 417.268.4059

St. Louis
Brad Hiles - 314.345.6489

Husch Blackwell Sanders LLP regularly publishes updates on industry trends and new developments in the law for our clients and friends. Please contact us if you would like to receive updates and newsletters, or request a printed copy.

Husch Blackwell Sanders encourages you to reprint this material. Please include the statement, "Reprinted with permission from Husch Blackwell Sanders, copyright 2010, www.huschblackwell.com." at the end of any reprints. Please also email info huschblackwell.com to tell us of your reprint.

This information is intended only to provide general information in summary form on legal and business topics of the day. The contents hereof do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific legal advice should be sought in particular matters.