Commission- No cause found in discrimination suit

Sunday, June 16, 2002

BLOOMFIELD, Mo. -- The Missouri Commission on Human Rights found no probable cause in a discrimination lawsuit filed against the Stoddard County Juvenile Office.

Community service coordinator and crime victim advocate Kristi A. Rinehart filed suit on May 15, 2001, against the juvenile office and Mike Davis, the chief juvenile officer for the 35th Circuit (Stoddard and Dunklin counties).

Rinehart, who worked for the juvenile office from Jan. 1, 1999, to March 27, 2001, alleged she was discharged from her job because of her pregnancy and a brain surgery she underwent.

After the surgery, Rinehart alleged, the juvenile office was "reluctant to allow me to return stating that they might put someone else in my position for a while as if I was not capable of performing my job."

Rinehart was seeking reinstatement to her former position with full seniority and benefits; back pay; monetary damages for humiliation, pain and suffering; and an end to the discriminatory practices.

"Based on the evidence found during the investigation, the executive director has rendered a decision of no probable cause" in the lawsuit, according to a letter from Donna N. Cavitte, the Commission on Human Rights' executive director.

Rinehart has the right to appeal for a period of three years, Cavitte said.

"I'm not sure where the pregnancy came in," said Davis, the juvenile officer. "She wasn't pregnant when she was discharged."

Rinehart's pregnancy had been a year earlier, during her first year of employment, Davis said.

"Secondly, she had underwent brain surgery in early 2000," he said. "She returned to work, with clearance from her doctor, on May 22, 2000."

Davis said the decision to terminate Rinehart was based on her not returning telephone calls to a crime victim beginning Oct. 26, 2000, through March 27, 2001.

The Daily American Republic was unable to reach Rinehart for comment.

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