SB 605 - This act repeals certain provisions of the Missouri Human Rights Act that relate to discrimination in housing practices and creates in its stead the Missouri Fair Housing Act. These provisions are replicated in substantially the same form as they appear in current law.
UNLAWFUL HOUSING PRACTICES
This act outlines various housing practices that are unlawful. Specifically, with exceptions, the following are unlawful housing practices if made because of a person's race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, or familial status:
• Refusing to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, refusing to negotiate for the sale or rental of or denying or otherwise making unavailable a dwelling;
• Discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in providing services or facilities in connection therewith;
• Making, printing, or publishing, or causing to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on protected criterion;
• Representing to a protected person that any dwelling is not available for inspection, sale, or rental when such dwelling is in fact so available;
• Inducing or attempting to induce any person to sell or rent any dwelling by representations regarding the entry or prospective entry into the neighborhood of a protected person or persons;
• Discriminating in the sale or rental of, or to otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any buyer or renter because of a disability; and
• Discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in providing services or facilities in connection with such dwelling, because of a disability.
RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS IN HOMEOWNER'S ASSOCIATIONS
The act stipulates that a homeowner's association shall not enforce a restrictive covenant that would be the equivalent of an unlawful housing practice. Furthermore, the act requires the board of directors of any homeowner's association to amend any governing document that includes a restrictive covenant that would be an unlawful housing practice.
DISCRIMINATION IN COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE LOANS
The act prohibits any entity whose business consists in whole or in part in the making of commercial real estate loans from denying, or discriminate in making a loan or other financial assistance to a person because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, or familial status.
DISCRIMINATION IN SELLING OR RENTING
No person shall be denied access to or membership or participation in any multiple listing service, real estate brokers' organization or other service organization, or facility relating to the business of selling or renting dwellings, because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, or familial status.
UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES IN GENERAL
The act stipulates that the following are unlawful discriminatory practices:
• Aiding, abetting, inciting, compelling, or coercing the commission of acts prohibited under the Missouri Fair Housing Act, or to attempting to do so;
• Retaliating or discriminating in any manner against any other person because such person has opposed any practice prohibited by the Missouri Fair Housing Act or because such person has filed a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing conducted pursuant to the Missouri Fair Housing Act;
• For the state or any political subdivision of this state to discriminate in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, disability, or familial status; and
• Discriminating in any manner against any other person because of such person's association with any person protected under this act.
CONTRIBUTING FACTOR STANDARD
An act is an unlawful discriminatory practice under this act when the protected classification is a contributing factor in the decision to discriminate.
Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an unlawful action under this act may file a claim within 180 days of the alleged act. Once a complaint has been filed with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, the process for disposing of the complaint follows a substantially similar process as in the Missouri Human Rights Act.
If, after the filing of a complaint, and the person aggrieved so requests in writing, the Commission shall issue to the person claiming to be aggrieved a letter indicating his or her right to bring a civil action within ninety days of such notice against the respondent named in the complaint. A court may grant as relief, as it deems appropriate, any permanent or temporary injunction, temporary restraining order, or other order, and may award to the plaintiff actual and punitive damages, and may award court costs and reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party.
Even if a person has failed to file a complaint with the Commission, he or she may nevertheless bring a civil action in any circuit court in the county in which the alleged unlawful discriminatory action occurred. Furthermore, any party to an action brought under this act may demand a trial by jury.
VIOLATIONS AND PENALTIES
Any person who willfully violates an order of the Commission is guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.
DUTIES OF MISSOURI COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
The Commission on Human Rights is charged with jurisdiction and power to seek to eliminate and prevent discrimination in housing because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, or familial status. To that end, it is required to receive, investigate, initiate, and pass upon complaints alleging discrimination in housing and to require the production for examination of any books, papers, records, or other materials relating to any matter under investigation. The commission shall issue publications and the results of studies and research which will tend to promote goodwill and minimize or eliminate discrimination in housing.
This act is substantially similar to HB 1317 (2018), HB 1933 (2018), and HB 2311 (2018).