House committee reviews employment law reform

Employment law reform has been a top priority of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the last four years.  This legislation was passed by the Missouri Legislature and vetoed twice by Gov. Jay Nixon, first in 2011 and again in 2012.

The Missouri Chamber seeks a technical change to language in the state’s Human Rights Statute covering employment discrimination.  The change would require workers who bring wrongful termination lawsuits to prove discrimination was a “motivating factor,” not simply a “contributing factor” in the employer’s action.  This change would bring Missouri’s law back in line with federal statutes and with the majority of states.

“A decade of court decisions have eroded our state’s laws and plunged the standards for bringing discrimination cases in Missouri to among the lowest in the nation,” said Jay Atkins, Missouri Chamber general counsel and director of governmental affairs. “For the last four years, the Missouri Chamber has been the loudest proponent of legislative change.  We have said time and time again that discrimination anywhere, but especially in the workplace, is ugly and wrong.  We need a strong law that allows expedient action in cases of discrimination and blocks fraudulent claims from moving forward.”

A new iteration of employment law reform, House Bill 1930, was presented this week to a House committee by Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington.  Atkins testified in opposition to the bill.

“The proposed change is a good first step, but does not go far enough to clarify the definition of motivating factor,” Atkins said.  “As written, this bill would continue to allow fraudulent cases into the system.”

The Missouri Chamber also expressed concern about a provision in the bill that would add a new protected class under the state’s Human Rights statute for sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The Missouri Chamber and many of our members have policies protecting employees from discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender identity.  We encourage more companies to consider adding such policies as well,” Atkins said.  “But there is a dramatic difference between advocating workplace policies, and creating an entire new cause of action that exposes all Missouri employers to further liability under employment law.”

No vote was taken on HB 1930.

For more information on employment law, contact Jay Atkins, at jatkins@mochamber.com, or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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One thought on “House committee reviews employment law reform

  1. As a member of the MO State Unemployment Council this bill is needed to prevent the paying of UI benefits that lost their job due common disregard for their responsibilities to follow established work rules to insure safe work environment and not having to overstaff due to a high level of absenteeism. Pay UI benefits should be because of a layoff or permanent closing of a company not for the many reason that Congress and State officials have try to expand over time.

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