Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Hill v. Ford Motor Co. Missouri Supreme Court (2009)

Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment

Cynthia Hill worked under the supervision of various people including Kenny Hune. Mr. Hune often made sexual comments to Ms. Hill and asked her inappropriate personal questions. Ms. Hill told Mr. Hune that she was offended by his comments and she repeatedly rejected his sexual advances. Upon receiving a complaint about Mr. Hune from Ms. Hill and another female employee, group leader Pete Wade raised these complaints with Mr. Hune. A few months after this, Ms. Hill was assigned to Mr. Hune’s supervision, where Mr. Hune refused to work with her, branded her a hostile worker, and created problems over small or non-issues. When Ms. Hill sought to bring a complaint to Mr. Edds, the labor relations supervisor, Mr. Edds told Ms. Hill to get psychiatric help and not return to work until she had done so. Upon receiving such treatment Ms. Hill resorted to the company’s 24-hour “Hotline” to report Mr. Edds and Mr. Hune. An hour later, Mr. Edds had suspended Ms. Hill from work for three days for a minor mistake. Upon Ms. Hill’s return to work, Mr. Edds told her she had been fired. The Missouri Supreme Court held that there were genuine issues of material fact to preclude the grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer. There was enough evidence for a jury to find that Mr. Hune had created a hostile work environment through his constant sexual harassment, which would constitute gender discrimination under MHRA 213.055.


Williams v. Williams Missouri Supreme Court (1982)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

Here, Mrs. Williams sought an order of protection against her husband, the respondent, who beat her numerous times. On one occasion, the respondent caused her serious bodily harm and Mrs. Williams was hospitalized for twelve days. Upon her petition for an order of protection from the court, the court held that although Mrs. Williams met all the requirements necessary to obtain relief under the Adult Abuse Act (§ 455.035 and § 455.045), she could not obtain relief because the Adult Abuse Act was unconstitutional because 1) the Act also afforded protection to children, which was not immediately apparent from the title of the act and therefore violated article II, section 23 of the Missouri Constitution; 2) an ex parte order violated defendants’ due process rights because it did not provide defendants with notice of process; and 3) the Act was too vague and therefore unconstitutional. The Missouri Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s decision and held that the Adult Abuse Act was constitutional. The court held that the “ex parte order provisions comply with due process requirements because they are reasonable means to achieve the state’s legitimate goal of preventing domestic violence, and afford adequate procedural safeguards, prior to and after any deprivation occurs.” Also, the Act is not vague because it “provides sufficient direction and guidance for the judges who must apply it. The protection orders are to issue only when an ‘immediate and present danger of abuse to the petitioner’ is found.”