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Harold Lampley and Rene Frost v. Missouri Commission on Human Rights

Case Concerning Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation Under State Law

Key Date: February 26, 2019
Status: Ruling In Favor of Plaintiffs from Missouri Supreme Court
Legal Team: Private Counsel
Type: Employment Discrimination

Case Overview:

Harold Lampley and Rene Frost v. Missouri Commission on Human Rights is a case concerning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. It was filed by Harold Lampley, a gay man who says he was mistreated in the workplace because of his sexual orientation, and Rene Frost, a co-worker who says she was also mistreated because of her friendship with Lampley.  The plaintiffs sued under the Missouri Human Rights Act, which explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sex, and relied on the Supreme Court precedent that discriminating against someone because they do not align with stereotypes commonly associated with a specific sex (namely, that men should date women) is the same thing as discriminating based on sex.

The second case involves two employees of the Missouri Department of Social Services, Harold Lampley and Rene Frost. Lampley, a gay man, filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Commission claiming discrimination based on sex. In a section of the complaint, Lampley wrote that he was being treated poorly at work because he “does not exhibit the stereotypical attributes of how a male should appear and behave.” Frost, Lampley’s co-worker, also sued, claiming that she faced discrimination and retaliation because of her friendship with Lampley.

The case is especially significant because it argues, as many courts have ruled in the past, that existing laws in Missouri prohibiting employment discrimination based on sex also extend to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Latest in the Case:

On February 26, 2019 the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, affirming that the law in Missouri prohibits employment discrimination based on sex stereotyping.

Case History:

  • June 27, 2014: Harold Lampley files a lawsuit against his employer, the State of Missouri’s Office of Administration Child Support Enforcement Division, with the Missouri Human Rights Commission and the EEOC. Frost files a similar complaint shortly after, on July 31, 2014.
  • 2015: The Missouri Human Rights Commission terminates the proceedings in the case, saying it lacks jurisdiction over the case. Lampley and Frost appeal the ruling.
  • October 24, 2017: The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District reverses the lower court ruling, finding in favor of Lampley and Frost on the grounds that Lampley faced discrimination based on sex stereotyping. The Missouri Human Rights Commission appeals the decision.
  • April 25, 2018: The Missouri Supreme Court holds a hearing in the case, alongside a case concerning discrimination based on gender identity. We are now awaiting a decision.
  • February 26, 2019The Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, affirming that Missouri law prohibits employment discrimination based on sex stereotyping.

Last Updated March 1, 2020


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