U.S. Supreme Court On Mandates For Workers To Vaccinate Or Test And Hospital Workers To Vaccinate
The United States Supreme Court in National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, rejected a mandate requiring employers with more than 100 employees to require their employees to vaccinate or test holding that there was no clear congressional authority under OSHA. The Court made it clear that in order to require such a far sweeping employer mandate it would be necessary for Congress to act. However, the Court upheld in Biden v. Missouri, the requirement that the Administration health care workers at facilities that receive federal funds could continue to enforce a vaccinate mandate for health care workers. National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor (SCOTUS 21A244, 1/13/22) and Biden v. Missouri, (SCOTUS 21A240 21A241, 1/13/22)
For a detailed analysis see Amy Howe, Scotusblog
Comment Howard: Assuming you can clear the undergrowth in Missouri law it seems that legislative authority is needed under the above cases. For home rule cities and counties enacting a law seems straight forward. Statutory cities and counties would seem to need a state law that clearly gives them this power. For third class cities Missouri has provided such a law. Hard to imagine it gets much better than this law. I have not checked it out but maybe this law is replicated in other statutes. Section 77.530. pertaining to third class cities seems to cover this quite well.
Powers of council, quarantine, condemnation, police power outside city.
Section 77.530. The council may make regulations and pass ordinances for the prevention of the introduction of contagious diseases into the city, and for the abatement of the same, and may make quarantine laws and enforce the same within five miles of the city. The council may purchase or condemn and hold for the city, within or without the city limits, within ten miles therefrom, all necessary lands for hospital purposes, waterworks, sewer carriage and outfall, and erect, establish and regulate hospitals, workhouses, poorhouses, police stations, fire stations and provide for the government and support of the same, and make regulations to secure the general health of the city, and to prevent and remove nuisances; provided, however, that the condemnation of any property outside of the city limits shall be regulated in all respects as the condemnation of property or railroad purposes is regulated by law; and provided further, that the police jurisdiction of the city shall extend over such lands and property to the same extent as over public cemeteries, as provided in this chapter.
Whistleblower Protection Act Codifies Existing Whistleblower Claims – Common Law Claims Continues To Exist
Facts and Procedure: Keller employed Yount as a mechanic in its automotive repair shop for approximately four years. Yount observed co-employees stealing company property for personal use. Specifically, Yount observed two of his coworkers taking a rear camera from a vehicle owned by Keller. Yount saw one of the coworkers receive a cash payment for the vehicle part without reporting the payment to his supervisors. Yount reported his observations to his supervisors. Yount’s supervisors berated him for reporting his co-employees’ actions. Yount refused to follow his supervisors’ instructions to ignore the theft and then reported his observations to Keller’s owners. One of the owners indicated it was a serious matter and that he would take care of the situation.
Shortly, after this occurred, Yount felt his main supervisor began retaliating against him for having escalated the matter. After reporting the internal theft, one of Yount’s supervisors wrote him up for deficient performance relating to his work on a Chevy vehicle. Approximately one week after reporting on his co-employees, the supervisor terminated Yount’s employment. Keller’s stated reason for termination was Yount’s poor workmanship on the Chevy vehicle and overall unsatisfactory work performance.
Yount then sued his former employer, Keller Motors, Inc. (“Keller”), under Section 285.575, the Whistleblower’s Protection Act (“WPA”). The circuit court dismissed the claim for failure to state a cause of action. Yount appealed to the Eastern District on the grounds that the circuit court misinterpreted the WPA by finding that his allegation of co-employee misconduct did not plead an unlawful act or serious misconduct of the employer to qualify him as a protected person under the WPA.
Analysis: In his sole point on appeal, Yount alleged that the circuit court erred in granting Keller’s motion to dismiss because it misconstrued Section 285.575 by improperly concluding that co- employee misconduct could not demonstrate serious misconduct of the employer.
The Eastern District begins it analysis by noting that the WPA was enacted to protect employees who report to the proper authorities an unlawful act of his or her employer or who report serious misconduct of the employer that violates a clear mandate of public policy as articulated in a constitutional provision, statute, or regulation promulgated by statute Section 285.575.2(4). In this case employee theft. Yount alleged in his Petition that he was wrongfully discharged after reporting to his supervisors that certain coworkers were stealing from Keller. Because the WPA by its express language codified the existing public-policy exception for whistleblower protection under the WPA, which has long recognized individual employee misconduct as a source of employer misconduct, the Petition adequately pleads that Yount is a protected person under the WPA; therefore, the circuit court erred in dismissing Yount’s Petition for failure to state a claim under the WPA.
One of the oddities of the statutory definition of employer is that employee is part of the definition of employer. In a case of first impression, the Eastern District concluded that the circuit court looked at the definition of “employer” in isolation. Instead the circuit court should have looked at the statue as a whole and not in isolated parts.
“Rather, a reasonable interpretation of the definition of “employer” under the WPA that gives meaning to all of the provisions therein, and respects the intent of the legislature in codifying existing whistleblower protections, requires us to find that a plaintiff who pleads that he or she reported unlawful acts or serious misconduct of co-employees adequately pleads unlawful acts or serious misconduct of the employer for purposes of being a protected person under the WPA. This nuanced interpretation of the defined terms “employer” and “protected person” gives meaning to all provisions within the WPA and avoids contravening the express legislative intent of the statute to codify existing common-law exceptions to the at- will employment doctrine.”
The Eastern District concluded that because the intent of the legislature in enacting the WPA was to codify the existing interpretations of the whistle blower law that common law protections continued including the common law exception of reporting theft by employees. Yount v. Keller, (ED109503, 12/14/21)
Comment Howard: This case is of interest to private employers the whistleblower exceptions created by the courts are codified (state and local government are excluded from the Act). Under the codification common law exceptions continue to exist, answering the question raised in the November issue of the Newsletter. Because the codification specifically excludes state and local government (political subdivisions) from the definition of employer whistleblower exemptions prior to the Act continue to apply to political subdivisions; therefore, the courts can expand whistleblower protections for local government like they did prior to the Act.
Evictions Linked to Homelessness
The connection between homelessness and evictions is well established according to the National Law Center report on “Homeless and Poverty.”
“While many communities across the country are working to end homelessness, too few have adopted legal protections to help renters find, and stay in, housing. This report explores the links between housing instability and homelessness as well as the laws that can reduce housing instability. While increasing the availability of affordable housing is a necessary component of ending homelessness, it may not be sufficient if low-income families and individuals are not able to access and keep stable housing. Legal protections can help increase housing stability and reduce homelessness. The United States faces a crisis of homelessness in urban, suburban, and rural areas across the country. The leading cause is the unavailability of housing, particularly rental housing, that is affordable to low-income families and individuals. Federal funding to support affordable housing was sharply decreased in the early 1980s and has not recovered, helping to create the modern phenomenon of homelessness, with high numbers of people experiencing chronic or sporadic homelessness each year.” https://homelesslaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ProtectTenants2018.pdf
The December 20, 2021 edition of Missouri Lawyers Weekly has an excellent discussion of a program in Kansas City where Kansas City protects tenants from unlawful evictions. KC initially funded a 2.5-million-dollar program based on programs in other communities across the country. The Lawyers Weekly article cites a Philadelphia study that shows for every dollar invested the city saved $13 in money otherwise spent on providing aid to people who have been evicted and are homeless. Many communities are plagued with homeless people. Providing a program to deal with the effect of evictions on homelessness may be a good way to attack the problem more directly. Using law school students to work on a program like this could be a win/win.
Failure To Exhaust Administrative Remedy For Liberty Interest Violation Leads To Dismissal Of Request For Injunctive And Declaratory Relief
Facts and Procedure: Before his employment with the City of Elsberry, (City) Heatherly worked as a police officer for the City of Brooklyn, Illinois which is located in St. Clair County, Illinois. While working there, Heatherly allegedly removed a weapon from the department’s evidence locker and improperly handled it. After St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, whose jurisdiction included Brooklyn, Illinois, became aware of this incident, and also became aware that Heatherly had left Brooklyn to become a police officer in the City, he put Heatherly on the Brady list. (Being on the Brady list essentially ends a police officer’s career, means he cannot be trusted, which is critical to testifying in criminal matters.) Kelly then wrote a letter to Wood, the prosecuting attorney for Lincoln County, Missouri, expressing his concern regarding Heatherly’s conduct. Wood’s then wrote a letter, in his official capacity as Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney, advising the Chief of Police for the City that Davis was “concerned with certain conduct that concerned Officer Heatherly,” as reported to him by Kelly. Heatherly claims Kelly’s letter prompted the police chief for the City to write his own letter dismissing Heatherly, mimicking Woods suggested letter.
Wood further wrote that he was “concerned about the impact that this will have on the successful prosecution of criminal cases … [and that] … [t]he evaluation of the strength of a case will not include weighing Officer Heatherly’s involvement as a weakness.” Wood requested that Chief Davis consider limiting Heatherly’s investigatory duties, or alternatively, consider terminating his employment. Subsequently, Chief Davis terminated Heatherly. The City then dismissed Heatherly as a police officer for the City without providing him with a liberty interest hearing.
According to Heatherly’s briefs, Heatherly had some sort of employment disciplinary hearing with the City in which he was afforded an opportunity to present witnesses and to have counsel present. Heatherly further claimed in his brief that “he has no basis to take an administrative appeal from the City’s termination since he was afforded the opportunity to present witnesses and to have counsel present in an earlier administrative proceeding. He also claimed the City’s decision to terminate him is “not erroneous or reviewable” since the City could not employ Heatherly as a Detective whose cases would not be prosecuted because the prosecuting attorney had placed him on a Brady list. Nevertheless, in his brief and at oral argument, Heatherly conceded that he did not exhaust his administrative remedies by filing suit under Chapter 536, or under any other authority, to challenge his termination.
Heatherly filed his petition in circuit court in which he sought injunctive and declaratory relief including the declaration that Wood, the prosecuting attorney for Lincoln County, Missouri had exceeded his lawful authority by placing Heatherly on his Brady list, that Wood be required to rescind his April 29, 2020 letter and remove Heatherly from his Brady list, and that Wood be enjoined from making any further reference to Heatherly’s conduct in St. Clair County, Illinois.
Heatherly claimed that he had a constitutionally-protected liberty interest as a police officer employed in the Missouri and that Wood’s action deprived him of that interest. Heatherly also complained that Wood’s action exceeded his authority and discretion under Fourteenth Amendment due process principles because Heatherly had no opportunity to challenge his placement on the Brady list.
Wood filed a motion to dismiss asserting that Heatherly’s amended petition failed to state a claim because Heatherly lacked standing and failed to plead a justiciable controversy, and that Heatherly had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. The trial court heard the matter and entered its order and judgment dismissing Heatherly’s amended petition for lack of standing and for the lack of a justiciable controversy to support a claim for declaratory and injunctive relief. Heatherly appealed to the Eastern District.
Analysis: Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies –
Heatherly claimed that he had a constitutionally protected “liberty interest” as a police officer and that Woods action deprived him of that interest. The Eastern District begins by noting that Missouri follows the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies as required by the Missouri Administrative Procedures Act (MAPA). Exhaustion is universally required.
Heatherly sued Wood the prosecutor for Lincoln County. The Court noted that the City, the employer of Heatherly was not a party to this suit even though it was the police chief for the City who dismissed Heatherly. The Court noted that the record was sufficient to conclude that Heatherly had administrative remedies to challenge his dismissal since the actions taken by the City were administrative actions; however, Heatherly failed to exhaust his administrative remedies by continuing to challenge his dismissal. The Eastern District dismissed Heatherly’s action for injunctive and declaratory relief based on the failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Heatherley vs. Wood, (ED109559, 12/28/21)
Comment Howard: This action was the last gasp for a failing cause. The action taken by the City in dismissing Heatherly clearly violated his liberty interest right by not providing him an opportunity to be immediately heard so he could tell his side of the story before he was summarily dismissed. Even if the City was ultimately right in dismissing Heatherly it failed miserably in providing minimal due process when it affected the liberty interest creating immediate liability. If you affect the liberty interest it is essential you give the employee an opportunity to be heard before you take further action. Seems like this might be a good time to refresh employees, who are making employment decisions, about the liberty interest.
Window Now Open To Challenge 2020 Census Data
A recent article in NPR serves as a reminder that the window to challenge 2020 census data is now open through June 2021. Considering the chaos surrounding the 2020 census (Trump advocates trying to suppress the counting of immigrants and minorities, the pandemic, and other factors) it may be worthwhile for local government officials to look at the census data to determine if there was an undercount. Lots of big money at stake for political subdivisions over a ten-year period. Census Story On NPR.
Below are some links to articles that provide more details on this process and how to challenge.
How Specific Does A Claim Filed With The MHRA Commission Have To Be?
Background: Williams v. City of Kansas City, is a 79-page opinion, which includes a 38-page dissent where the full Court participates in a 7 to 3 opinion. In and of itself, this makes opinion extremely unusual. Add in the factor, that there is a very stinging dissent over whether or not the complainant exhausted his remedies in a MHRA discrimination complaint makes this case of note that surely will have to be decided by the Missouri Supreme Court. (I have never seen anything like this.) The Western District was split 7 to 3 with the majority holding that Kansas City (City) was not required to exhaust its remedies and that the complainant filing was sufficient to raise a hostile work environment claim. This Opinion is significant to local government not only because it deals with a discrimination complaint but also in the larger context of what it means about other administrative complaints.
Facts and Procedure: The differences between the opinion and the dissent requires a review of the complaint
Williams in his complaint described the challenged actions as follows:
“I. I was hired by [the City] on or about 6/20/11 and I am currently employed as a Maintenance Electrician.
- On or about 11/14, Maintenance Electricians, white, were selected for and thereafter completed an industrial motor control training course. I had more seniority than two of the Maintenance Electricians, as did another black Maintenance Electrician.
III. I believe this is discrimination against me because of my race, black, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and retaliation against me for opposing acts made unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.”
Later Williams filed an Amended Charge of Discrimination with the Commission, which claimed that Williams had been subjected to racial discrimination and retaliation by the City. His amended complaint states:
“I have worked for the City of Kansas City, Missouri, for approximately seventeen years and have been in the Water Services Department for the last five years. Since November, 2014, when less-senior white employees were permitted to take an Industrial Motor Control Training Course, management has been offering to allow myself and other African-Americans the opportunity to take such a class. The White employees were paid while taking this class . Initially, we were told that there would be two groups taking the class. The White employees were permitted to take the class first. Neither myself nor any other African-Americans have been offered the same course. I believe that the City intended to use this class as a basis for reclassifying employees, as mention of a new job position of Utility Electrician was made and I believe this course would have been used as a qualification for that position. I complained to the Superintendent, Steve Berry, about the White employees getting to take the class and none of the African-American employees getting to and about wanting to talk to Human Resources about the new job position. After that, there has not been any more mention of the Utility Electrician position. Management continued to tell us that there would be a second class after the first group had finish[ed], it was even mentioned after I initially filed my charge. To this date, no second class has ever been offered. I believe that the City and the management at the Water Plant singled out the African-Americans and selected the White employees to take the class and that our race played a role in the decision; we had been asking to take the course for years prior to it being offered to the White employees. I believe this is a clear pattern and practice by the City of permitting White employees to receive better training than African-Americans, that would put the White employees in a better position for promotion.”
A trial was conducted and the jury returned a verdict for Williams that included his hostile work environment and retaliation claims. The City filed after trial motions, which were overruled and an appeal followed to the Western District.
Analysis: The primary issue before the full Western District and the sole issue that my analysis covers is focused on is the exhaustion issue. Six members of the Court joined in the opinion overruling the City’s affirmative defense of exhaustion, while 3 members dissented. While the majority reviewed numerous claims of error made by the City (which we do not discuss) the key issue and my entire analysis and most of the Court’s deals with the exhaustion issue. The key question was whether or not the complaints described a hostile work environment or just described a specific incident limited to testing as set forth in the complaint that was filed. (Can any complaint morph in to a hostile work environment claim?)
The majority Opinion seems to apply the analysis through the lens of Missouri Rules of Procedures to determine whether or not Williams exhausted his administrative remedies before the Human Rights Commission.
Judge Ahuja, writing for the dissent, focuses on the issue this way:
I have read Williams’ administrative complaint over and over again since this case was first submitted to a division of this Court several months ago. Williams’ administrative complaint is well-written, clear, and detailed. Yet despite my repeated review, I can only see one employment practice which Williams challenged: the City’s ongoing and repeated denial of training opportunities to Williams and to other African-American electricians in the Water Services Department. I see no reference in Williams’ charge, even under the broadest and most generous reading, to unfair discipline, denial of promotions, unfavorable work assignments, harassment, or perfunctory investigation of discrimination complaints.
Judge Ahuja goes to explain:
“Williams’ administrative complaint was clear and explicit. It alleged that he and other African-Americans had been wrongfully denied access to a specific training course, nothing more. Williams’ counsel conceded as much at oral argument. Yet despite the admittedly limited nature of Williams’ administrative complaint, the circuit court permitted him to submit to the jury a hostile work environment claim, and a retaliation claim, which alleged that he had been subjected to unjustified discipline, and harassed and mistreated in a variety of ways. Even under the most wildly expansive reading of Williams’ administrative complaint, it alleged none of these matters.”
Judge Ahuja argued that the Missouri Human Rights Act and a controlling Missouri Supreme Court decision control. An employee cannot litigate claims in court, which the employee has not first raised in a timely charge of discrimination with the Commission. Judge Ahuja noted that the circuit court failed to enforce this well-established exhaustion requirement, which the City repeatedly invoked. Therefore, Judge Ahuja would have upheld the City motion to dismiss. Williams v. City of Kansas City, (WD83835, 12/21/21)
Comment Howard: The majority opinion and the dissenting opinion take very different analytical approaches. The majority applies Missouri Civil Rules to an administrative complaint by relying on cases interpreting the Civil Rules. The dissent examines Missouri Supreme Court precedent and federal law involving exhaustion of remedies, concluding that the Williams did not exhaust his remedies based on these lines of cases.
I am completely puzzled by the argument of the majority because as far as I know there is nothing in the Civil Rules of Procedures that apply to administrative proceedings. The rules state where they apply.
See 41.01. Rules – When Applicable
(a) Rules 41 through 101 shall govern the following:
- Civil actions pending in this Court and court of appeals;
(2) Civil actions pending before a circuit judge except those actions governed by the probate code;
(3) Civil actions pending before an associate circuit judge sitting as a circuit judge.
My review of these Rules fails to disclose anything that suggests the Missouri Rules of Procedure apply to complaints filed in an administrative proceeding. If they do we have a lot of rethinking to do. If you apply the reasoning by the majority just about any administrative action can morph into a hostile work environment complaint.
In my opinion, I think the dissent wins hands down on the arguments but we will just have to wait. What do you think?
We wait for the Missouri Supreme Court to resolve this issue.
Playing Loose With Election Commission Rules Results In $10,000 Fine For Election Law Violation
Facts and Procedure: In 2015, a citizen filed a complaint with the Missouri Elections Committee (MEC) alleging campaign finance violations in an Independence City Council election. The complaint named three entities: the Show-Council (Council); Stepanek, as the Council’s treasurer; and LeVota. While investigating this complaint, the MEC initiated an audit of the Council due to compliance issues found while conducting the investigation. Following the audit, the MEC filed a 12-count complaint; nine counts were against the Council and Stepanek, and three counts were against LeVota. In January 2017, the Commission entered a consent order against the Council and Stepanek resolving the nine counts against them.
While investigating the MEC determined that the facts were as follows:
In 2013, the Committee for Research Treatment and Cures (“CRTC”) approached LeVota to assist as a campaign consultant with a ballot issue. The CRTC was to pay LeVota $4,750 for his services. On November 1, 2013, the CRTC wrote a check to the Council for $4,750. On the CRTC’s itemized expenditures form that it filed with the MEC, it listed the purpose of this expenditure to the Council as “leaflet distribution and endorsement support.” The CRTC’s check was deposited in the Council’s bank account. LeVota subsequently submitted an invoice to the Council for $4,950.
The invoice, dated November 15, 2013, stated that it was “[f]or campaign efforts relating to support for Jackson County’s Ballot Question 1 on the November 5, 2013 ballot. Consisting of direction and consultation with the Translational Research Committee and the Committee for Research Treatments and Cures’ efforts.” On September 30, 2014, LeVota withdrew $4,000 in cash from the Council’s account. LeVota then purchased a cashier’s check, made payable to Chase Card Services, for that amount and listed himself as the remitter. He used the check to pay his business credit card. On May 4, 2015, LeVota wrote a check, made payable to “cash,” on the Council’s account for $950. According to LeVota, Stepanek authorized both the $4,000 and $950 withdrawals as payment to him for the services he provided as a vendor.
The Council did not file quarterly disclosure reports with the MEC listing the CRTC’s $4,750 contribution or the Council’s $4,000 and $950 expenditures to LeVota. Instead, the Council filed committee statement of limited activity reports on January 13, 2014, October 13, 2014, and July 7, 2015. Each of these reports contained a certification by Stepanek that, for the quarter covered by the report, “neither the aggregate amount of contributions received nor the aggregate amount of expenditures made by the committee exceeded five hundred dollars.”
LeVota testified that, because the CRTC paid the Council for his services, the Council then owed him money as a vendor. LeVota offered into evidence the invoice that he submitted to the Council seeking payment of $4,950 for his campaign efforts for the CRTC.9 The invoice, dated November 15, 2013, stated that it was “[f]or campaign efforts relating to support for Jackson County’s Ballot Question 1 on the November 5, 2013 ballot, consisted of direction and consultation with the Translational Research Committee and the Committee for Research Treatments and Cures’ efforts.” LeVota testified that, with Stepanek’s authorization as the Council’s treasurer, his withdrawal of $4,000, which he used to purchase a cashier’s check to pay his business credit card, and his withdrawal of $950 in cash constituted the Council’s payment to him of his November 15, 2013 invoice.
Based on the above, the Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC) determined that LeVota violated Missouri campaign finance laws and issued two $10,000 civil fees against him, (on appeal reduced to one). LeVota appealed to the Administrative Hearing Commission (“AHC”). The AHC disagreed with the MEC and found that LeVota did not violate campaign finance laws and was not subject to a civil fee. The circuit court reversed the AHC’s decision. An appeal was taken to the Western District where the MEC sought review of the AHC’s decision.
Analysis: The MEC contended that the AHC erred in finding that LeVota could not be held liable because he was not associated with a continuing committee and did not use committee contributions for impermissible purposes. The Western District started its analysis with examination of the statutory language.
The issue was whether LeVota, who was not the Council’s treasurer and did not hold a position with the Council at the time he made the withdrawals in 2014 and 2015, can be held liable for violating Section 130.031.2 requirements that expenditures of over $50 in cash must be made by checks drawn on the Council’s account and signed by the Council’s treasurer, and Section 130.031.2’s prohibition against making a check payable to “cash” except to replenish the Council’s petty cash fund.
Section 130081.1 provides:
“Any person who knowingly accepts or makes a contribution or makes an expenditure in violation of any provision of this chapter or who knowingly conceals a contribution or expenditure by filing a false or incomplete report or by not filing a required report, in addition to or in the alternative to any other penalty imposed by this chapter, shall be held liable to the state in civil penalties in an amount equal to any such contribution or expenditure.”
“Person” is defined as:
“[A]n individual, group of individuals, corporation, partnership, committee, proprietorship, joint venture, any department, agency, board, institution or other entity of the state or any of its political subdivisions, union, labor organization, trade or professional or business association, association, political party or any executive committee thereof, or any other club or organization however constituted or any officer or employee of such entity acting in the person’s official capacity;”
The Court concluded that under Section 130.072, any individual or entity who meets the chapter’s broad definition of “person” and who knowingly accepts a contribution, contributes, or makes an expenditure in violation of Chapter 130’s provisions may be held liable for civil penalties
The statute demonstrates that the legislature’s clear intent that liability for a committee’s financial transactions that are made in violation of any of the chapter’s provisions, including those contained in Section 130.031.2, is not limited to only committee treasurers or persons who hold a position on a committee.
Therefore, LeVota violated the statute. Missouri Ethics Commission v. Levota, (WD84233, 12/14/21)
Comment Howard: Looked like there was massive violations of the statute but since the statute was like swiss cheese, the actual violations were very limited. It seemed that this almost the perfect way to get control of the funds because no one was responsible until the western District stopped this nonsense with its opinion. It is time for reform, but I don’t have much hope for it.
Blue Springs School District Hit With $4,175,000 Verdict In Transgender Discrimination Suit
A Jackson County jury awarded $4.175 million dollars against the Blue Springs School District for its handling of actions taken against a transgender student with respect to bathroom issues. The jury determined the Blue Springs School District discriminated against a transgender student when it refused to let him use the boys’ restrooms or locker rooms in middle school and also at its Freshman Center. Four million dollars was the punitive damages in the case. Only $175,000 of the award was for actual damages.
You have to admire the closing argument by the Plaintiff’s attorney described in the December 20, 2021, of Lawyers Weekly. “If you want to yell do $1 million, and if you want make the earth shake, do $2 million.” Myers who made the closing argument commented after the $4,175,000 verdict: “They wanted to really make the earth shake, cause a tornado.” It seems like the jury was really pissed. Considering the size of the verdict this decision it seems likely to be appealed.