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David Deterding and Michael Harriss Publish an Article Discussing Dispositive Motion Practice in Hostile Work Environment Claims

David Deterding and Michael Harriss, attorneys in HeplerBroom’s St. Louis office, published “The Federal-State Divide Is Widening: Dispositive Motion Practice in the Context of Hostile Work Environment Claims” in the MODL Quarterly Report. The Report is a publication sponsored by the Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers. 

The notion that employers prefer to be in federal court and employees in state court in Missouri is hardly an earthshattering revelation. Nevertheless, because Missouri appellate courts have, in recent years, uniformly declined to uphold summary judgments in the area of employment law, the gap between the federal and state court views on dispositive motions is widening.

The article discusses the fundamental divide between the state approach and the federal approach by looking at case law tackling the issue of whether harassing conduct was sufficiently severe or pervasive to create an actionable claim for hostile work environment—an issue on which employers have historically had some success in obtaining summary judgment. As the cases discussed in the article demonstrate, while employers have a fighting chance on motions for summary judgment in federal court, there is a distinct trend disfavoring summary judgment in these situations in Missouri state courts, making summary judgment nearly per se improper on hostile work environment claims. 

To read the article, please click here. The article begins on page 14.

Click here to obtain Mr. Deterding’s biographical and contact information, and here for Mr. Harriss’s.