Missouri Senate takes on Whistleblower Protection Act

This week the Missouri Senate discussed Missouri’s Whistleblower policy and what the legislature can do to protect those who speak out on wrongdoing in the workplace. Heard in the Senate Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee, Senate Bill 490 would protect employees that are the whistleblowers that report illegal workplace conduct, and is sponsored by Sen. Brad Lager (R-Savannah). The proposed legislation would also provide legal protection to employers.

Sen. Brad Lager introduces his bill to clarify Missouri's whistleblower statutes.

Sen. Brad Lager introduces his bill to clarify Missouri’s whistleblower statutes.

Sen. Lager told the committee Monday that a court ruling a few years ago dramatically changed the way that ‘whistle blower’ was interpreted in our state.

“We want to take it back to the way it was,” Lager testified, “In order for there to be a whistle blower protection, there actually has to be a finding of something wrong happening.”

The bill would make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discharge or retaliate against an individual who is a protected person under the whistleblower protection.  The bill would then become the exclusive remedy for any and all unlawful employment practices and puts a cap on the amount of damages a person can receive.  However, a court may award the plaintiff actual and punitive damages.

This Missouri Chamber is supportive of this legislation.  Jay Atkins, general counsel for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, testified on behalf of the bill.

“Those who oppose this legislation argue that potential plaintiffs will be unable to file litigation because the definition of protected person under the bill is more stringent than what currently exists in common law.  However, employers and employees are best served by having this standard established in statute.”

The committee did not take any action on this bill.  For more information about employment law, please contact Jay Atkins, general counsel for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry at jatkins@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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