The former director of Missouri's unemployment benefits agency is alleging discrimination in her firing by Gov. Jay Nixon's administration.
Gracia Backer was replaced in March as director of the Division of Employment Security in Missouri's labor department. Her ouster came at the same time that Nixon appointed Labor Department Director Larry Rebman to a different job.
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.”
Testimony was heard today on legislation that would redefine what constitutes workplace discrimination in Missouri.
If passed, workplace discrimination would have to be a motivating factor, not just a contributing one, in any wrongful action taken against a worker by an employer, which is the current federal standard. Attorney Rich AuBuchon spoke in favor of the bill on behalf of his former employer, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. He told the House Committee on Workforce Development and Workplace Safety that the state’s current definition of discrimination is hurting Missouri’s economy.
The St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center debuts a new interactive exhibit called “Change Begins With Me: Confronting Hate, Discrimination and Ethnic Conflict” this week on the premise that “the lessons of the Holocaust are not yet learned.”