The Missouri Human Rights Act provides that after an investigation where the Executive Director finds Probable Cause that discrimination has occurred, and after the case is not resolved in the conciliation process, the Chairperson may set the case for hearing before the Administrative Hearings Commission (AHC). An administrative judge (Commissioner) with the AHC serves as hearing examiner to hear the case and make a recommended finding after hearing all of the evidence from both parties. A panel of three MCHR commissioners makes the final finding.
Recent Hearing Panel Orders of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights are listed below.
- 6/16/2016 State of Missouri ex rel. Craig D. Mershon v. Kenny Lai and Kenny Lai d/b/a Prolong Nails
- Mr. Mershon is a person with a disability who uses a motorized wheelchair for mobility. Mr. Mershon began patronizing Prolong Nails in 2007. Sometime in 2009, Mershon went to Prolong Nails for his monthly manicure and pedicure. The owner of Prolong Nails, Kenny Lai, told Mr. Mershon they could no longer provide him services because they were not licensed or insured to provide services to people with disabilities. Mr. Lai told Mr. Mershon not to return to Prolong Nails because of issues relating to Mr. Mershon’s disability and that if he did, then the owner would charge him more than twice the posted price for his pedicure. The hearing panel determined Respondents denied Complainant services from a place of public accommodations because of his disability and awarded Mr. Mershon $13,000 in damages for deprivation of his civil rights, humiliation, and emotional distress. The hearing panel also ordered Respondents to cease and desist any ongoing unlawful and discriminatory practices that violate the prohibition on discrimination against persons with disabilities, to obtain training on how to accommodate customers with disabilities, and to submit a plan to comply with these orders to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.
- 9/19/2014 Jacqueline and Scott Henderson v. Villa Roma Apartments, et al.
- Jacqueline Henderson sustained a spinal cord injury that resulted in lower body paralysis and a permanent inability to walk. She uses a wheelchair. She and her husband, Scott Henderson, looked at a ground floor apartment at the Villa Roma Apartments. They indicated that they would need a ramp installed to get the wheelchair over a four-inch threshold to access the apartment. Later, the apartment manager informed the Hendersons that the owner said it was not possible to install a ramp. The Hendersons sent Respondent a letter formally requesting to have the ramp installed at their own expense. Villa Roma never responded. The hearing panel determined Villa Roma refused to rent to the Hendersons because of Jacqueline Henderson’s disability. Respondent was ordered to cease and desist from further discriminatory practices, pay the Hendersons $5,000 for deprivation of their civil rights and for emotional distress and humiliation, and to pay a civil penalty of $2,000 to MCHR to vindicate the public interest.
- 9/13/2013 State of Missouri ex rel. Charlene & Benjamin Burke v. Tamara & Doyle McDowell
- Mr. and Mrs. Burke and their two minor children rented a dwelling from Mr. and Mrs. McDowell in a housing complex consisting of four dwellings. The McDowells decided they wanted to only rent to older persons and terminated the tenancy of the Burkes. The hearing panel determined the McDowells’ actions discriminated against the Burkes because of their familial status (two minor children). Complainants were awarded $2,000 in damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress; $2,000 in damages for deprivation of their civil rights; and $6,000.20 in actual damages for out-of-pocket expenses related to the Burkes’ moves, for a total of $10,000.20. The McDowells were also ordered to pay MCHR a civil penalty of $1,000 to vindicate the public interest.
- 9/4/2013 State of Missouri ex rel. Daniel Huhn v. China Buffet Fenton, Inc.
- China Buffet Fenton refused to allow Complainant, Daniel Huhn, his son, and his guide dog into the restaurant. Complainant is blind and has a trained and certified guide dog. The police were called, and they informed the owner he would be breaking the law if he did not allow Complainant and his guide dog into the restaurant, but the owner still refused to admit Complainant. The hearing panel determined the restaurant violated the law when it simply refused to allow Complainant entrance to the restaurant because he had a guide dog. Complainant was awarded $24,000 in damages for humiliation and emotional distress and $8,000 in damages for deprivation of his civil rights.