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Missouri State Merit System Employees Can Demand Service Letter, under 36.470

Missouri State Government Merit System employees have a right that is similar to the more well-known Service Letter law. See MO Law 36.470 – Missouri State Employees are entitled to a Service Letter. The Law defines the Service Letter as “a letter setting forth the nature and character of service rendered by the employee, the duration thereof, and truly stating for what cause, if any, the employee has been discharged from or has quit such employment.”

BUT —- This special law for State Government Employees (36.470) is very different from the Service Letter Law that applies to private employees (290.140). See also My Service Letter article about 290.140.

How to qualify for a Service Letter under 36.470 if you are a State Merit System employee:

  • Have worked at least 90 days before getting let go, or quitting.
  • Make a written request for Service Letter.
  • Send the written request to the “head of the department or division employing the employee”.

The key differences between MO Law 36.470 and MO Law 290.140:

  • No Certified Mail Requirement: The State Employee does not have to send his request via certified mail. This is a major difference from 290.140. BUT the prudent State Employee WILL send his request via Certified Mail, just so that he has some proof.
  • It’s a CRIME: Yes, it’s a CRIME for the “Head of a Department or Division affected” to refuse to provide a Service Letter when requested. It’s a Misdemeanor. This is a major difference from 290.140.
  • Differences in Remedies: It’s possible to sue the State for failing or refusing to furnish a Service Letter, but only if the failure or refusal was willful and malicious. This is a meaningful difference in language from 290.140. But under either law, 36.470 or 290.140, you won’t win anything of significance in court unless you can prove willfulness or maliciousness.
  • No specific deadline to provide the Service Letter. 36.470 does not specify the time period in which the State must issue the letter to you. However, give the Department at least 45 days before you even think about taking action.

That’s all I want to say about 36.470 (the Service Letter rights of State Merit System employees) at this time. To learn about the Service Letter rights for private employees, see My other Service Letter article, about 290.140.

***** END OF ARTICLE ***** Missouri Employment Law

Maintained by Attorney Phil Willoughby
Founded by Tim Willoughby, Esq. (1959-2013)

Phil is a Missouri employment lawyer who is licensed to practice in Kansas and Missouri, and primarily takes cases in Saint Louis and Kansas City. He is a member of the Missouri Bar Association and Kansas Bar Association. Additionally, he has practiced in the United States Federal Courts of Missouri in St. Louis and Kansas City. He has also practiced in the Kansas Federal District Court in Kansas City, Kansas.

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Phil Willoughby, Attorney
Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

Kansas City Office:
9800 NW Polo, Suite 100
Kansas City, MO 64153
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