Firm Attorneys Propose Changes to Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA); Melanie Keeney Testifies Before Missouri Senate re: SB 532 and SB 533.

Mar 5, 2007

Attorneys from Tueth Keeney are often in demand for their expertise with respect to employment law matters. Recently, that expertise was in demand by the Missouri Senate.

Tueth Keeney attorneys including Ian Cooper, Melanie Keeney, and Katherine Nash, recently authored proposed amendments to the Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”). The amendments would improve the MHRA’s fairness to employers, by eliminating individual supervisor liability and punitive damages. The proposed changes also include adding the Business Judgment rule and “same decision” defenses, which are currently recognized under similar federal laws.

The proposed amendments were the subject of testimony by Firm Shareholder Melanie Keeney and Mr. Van Meter, on behalf of The Missouri United School Insurance Council (“MUSIC”). On March 5, 2007, Firm Shareholder Melanie Keeney, along with Gary Van Meter, Executive Director of MUSIC, testified before the Missouri Senate regarding the proposals in Senate Bill 532 and Senate Bill 533. These Senate Bills propose changes to the MHRA which are designed to benefit employers, including public school districts.

The Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA), Sec. 213.010 et seq. RSMo., creates unlawful employment practices under penalty of state law. These include making it illegal for an employer to fail or refuse to hire, or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age or disability. The current text of the statute can be found here: The Missouri General Assembly’s web site provides the ability to track the progress of bills such as SB 532 and 533, or to watch live debate, and can be found here:

The Missouri United School Insurance Council is a protected self-insurance pooling program for Missouri school districts. Its membership includes over 400 Missouri school districts and community colleges, representing approximately 75% of the school districts in the state. Tueth Keeney regularly represents MUSIC member school districts in school law and litigation matters. For more information on MUSIC and its programs, see its website at

Ian P. Cooper is a founding Shareholder of the Firm of Tueth, Keeney, Cooper, Mohan & Jackstadt, P.C. Prior to founding the Firm, Ian was a partner at Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin in its St. Louis office. Before entering private practice, Ian served as Law Clerk to the Hon. James F. Warren of the Texas Court of Appeals, First Supreme Judicial District, in Houston, Texas from 1984-1985.

Ian practices in the areas of commercial, employment, higher education, environmental, and tort litigation. Ian has tried numerous jury and bench trials in federal and state courts in Missouri, Illinois, Texas and Arkansas. He has served as lead counsel in significant employment, tort and commercial cases, including class actions and other complex litigation. Ian has also argued cases before the Missouri Supreme Court, the Illinois Supreme Court, the Missouri Court of Appeals, the Illinois Appellate Court, and the United States Courts of Appeal for the Seventh and Eighth Circuits.

Melanie Gurley Keeney , a founding Shareholder of the Firm, practices in the areas of school, higher education, labor and employment, and immigration law. Her experience in education law includes representing numerous Missouri school districts and institutions of higher education regarding a wide range of personnel and student matters, including tenure, terminations, discrimination, First Amendment, discipline, special education, Title IX sexual discrimination, § 1983 claims, Open Meetings law, OCR complaints and other issues.

Melanie also specializes in First Amendment issues, ranging from free speech to religion in the schools, and she regularly advises school districts on these issues. She also serves as a frequently requested speaker in the local and national level. Melanie has extensive experience litigating both federal and state cases. Melanie is a past board member of the National School Board Association’s Council of School Attorneys and is past Chairman of the Missouri Council of School Attorneys.

Katherine L. Nash practices primarily in the areas of education, litigation, labor and employment law. Kate has extensive experience representing private and public employers in all areas of employment law. She has experience advising employers as to all matters of human resource policy issues, specifically ensuring that employers are in compliance with state and federal labor and employment laws. She practices primarily in Missouri and Illinois state and federal courts. Kate has also represented clients in matters before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Missouri Human Rights Commission and the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Kate received her J.D., Washington University School of Law, in 2002 where she served as Articles and Notes Editor of the Journal of Law and Policy, was elected Vice President of the Washington University Student Bar Association, and was the recipient of the Jack Gardner Humanitarian Award.

Tueth Keeney successfully represents a number of businesses, large and small, throughout the Midwest in labor and employment matters. Our broad range of experience includes employment discrimination litigation, wage-hour investigations, affirmative action plans, INS audits, and a variety of traditional labor matters.

Over the last few years, the Firm has successfully defended over 100 discrimination and other employment litigation matters. The Firm has regularly obtained summary judgment in nearly every category of employment litigation. Our attorneys have also defended many cases in trials and appeals in federal and state courts throughout the Midwest.

Tueth Keeney maintains one of the largest education practices in Missouri, advising and representing public school districts in all parts of the state. The Firm also defends school-related lawsuits in federal and state courts throughout Missouri on behalf of MUSIC and other educational insurers.