Workplace discrimination bill
3:59 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Mo. House Votes To Redefine Workplace Discrimination

Legislation that would redefine workplace discrimination in Missouri has been passed by the State House

House Bill 320 would require that discrimination be a motivating factor in any wrongful action taken against an employee, instead of a contributing factor as it is now.  State Representative Brandon Ellington (D, Kansas City) says Missouri’s standard for discrimination should not be lowered.

“We know the potential for discrimination, and to be able to prove that it was a motivational factor is almost impossible," Ellington said.  "Discrimination can happen to anybody in this body – it may not be racial, but it definitely could be age discrimination; it may not be age, but it could definitely be sexual discrimination.”

The bill’s backers say they only want to bring Missouri’s workplace discrimination definition in line with the federal one, and that the current definition is harming the state’s business climate.  It was sponsored by State Representative Kevin Elmer (R, Nixa).

“We’re bringing it into accordance...by alleviating employers from being trapped in litigation for months and months and years on end," Elmer said.  "We still will punish the wrongdoer.”

The bill now goes to the Missouri Senate.  A similar measure was vetoed last year by Governor Jay Nixon (D).

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport