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While conversations about race have become more common since the shooting death of Michael Brown, some scholars are hoping to expand the dialogue to include colorism, discrimination based on degrees of skin tone.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

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.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

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.”

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

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.

(Photo Courtesy: University of Missouri - St. Louis)

A leading advocate for equal rights argues infant mortality, access to education, and unemployment remain major issues of inequality in the African American community.

Julianne Malveaux is a labor economist, author and political commentator.  She is also the former President of Bennett College, a historically black college for women in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Host Don Marsh talked with Malveaux in advance of her speech at the University of Missouri – St. Louis to commemorate the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

(via Flickr/slgckgc)

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.”

(Bill Raack/St. Louis Public Radio)

Supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community Friday called on St. Louis County and individual municipalities to enact anti-discrimination laws.

Five area cities, including the city of St. Louis, have updated their discrimination ordinances to include protections for the LGBT community. Andrew Shaughnessy, with the LGBT advocacy group PROMO, says there are several others considering doing the same thing.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Republican leaders in the Missouri House say they’ve been negotiating with Governor Jay Nixon (D) over the two bills he vetoed last month.

The governor vetoed bills that would redefine workplace discrimination and that would place occupational disease claims solely within the workers’ compensation system House Speaker Steven Tilley (R, Perryville) says discussions have been productive, but that there’s been no compromise reached yet.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

A State House committee began a hearing Tuesday into a stripped-down version of the workplace discrimination bill.

Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed the House version last month, so backers are now pushing a revised bill that will primarily focus on protecting whistleblowers.  State Rep. Kevin Elmer (R, Nixa) says language that would redefine workplace discrimination as a motivating factor instead of a contributing one has been removed.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Cochran VA Medical Center continues to have problems according to federal report

A new federal report says the Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis continues to have problems with sterilization in its dental clinic. The report comes two years after the hospital notified more than 1,800 veterans that they may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis or other viruses because of unclean conditions in the dental clinic.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Governor Jay Nixon (D) has vetoed two workplace-related bills passed by Missouri lawmakers this year.  They are the first vetoes issued this year.

First, he vetoed the House version of the workplace discrimination bill, which would have redefined discrimination as a “motivating factor” instead of a “contributing factor” in any action taken by an employer against a worker.  The Senate version of the bill is still alive, however.  It was sponsored by State Senator Brad Lager (R, Savannah).

(via Flickr/kcds)

Legislation that would add gun owners to the state’s list of protected minority groups has passed the Missouri House.

Under the bill, gun owners who carry their firearms with them in a lawful manner (i.e. possess a concealed-carry permit) cannot be fired, denied benefits, or otherwise discriminated against.  It was sponsored by State Rep. Wanda Brown (R, Cole Camp).

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Senate has sent the House version of the workplace discrimination bill to Governor Jay Nixon.

Senate Democrats spent five hours Wednesday blocking the bill before sitting down.  Today, there was no debate, only a 23 to 8 straight party-line vote.  Brad Lager (R, Savannah) handled the bill in the Senate.  He says he fully expects the governor, a Democrat, to veto the bill.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Legislation that would redefine workplace discrimination standards in Missouri has passed the State House.

The bill would change the definition by making discrimination a motivating factor in any action taken by an employer against an employee, instead of a contributing factor as established by court rulings in recent years.  House Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R, Eureka) argued that the current standard is killing small businesses in Missouri.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Senate has passed legislation that would redefine what constitutes discrimination in the workplace.

The vote was a mere formality following last week’s battle to kill the measure.  Maria Chappelle-Nadal of University City and several other Senate Democrats had conducted a filibuster, but gave in after language guaranteeing jury trials in discrimination lawsuits was added to the bill.  But she still spoke out against it, in particular, the Missouri Chamber’s claim that the bill would help curb frivolous lawsuits.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Senate has given first-round approval to legislation that would redefine workplace discrimination, after an agreement was reached between the bill’s sponsor and a group of Democrats that had been blocking it.

The agreement took the form of an amendment to the bill, which would guarantee the right to a jury trial in any workplace discrimination case.  State Senator Brad Lager (R, Savannah), the bill’s sponsor, agreed to support the amendment.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

(2-2-2012, 1:47 a.m.:  Filibuster is over...Chappelle-Nadal agreed to stop blocking SB 592 in exchange for allowing her to add an amendment guaranteeing right of trial by jury in discrimination cases...she still voted "no" when bill received first-round approval...new story with full details will be posted.)

(10:56 p.m.:  Filibuster approaching 12 hours...Senators Chappelle-Nadal, Wright-Jones and Curls have been meeting behind closed doors, possibly considering an alternate version of the bill while other Democrats and one Republican, Kevin Engler, fill in...follow @MarshallGReport on Twitter for immediate updates.)

A filibuster launched last week by Senate Democrats to block a vote on a workplace discrimination bill has resumed today.  It would require that discrimination be a motivating factor, not a contributing factor, in any action taken by an employer against an employee.

State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D, University City) restarted the filibuster and has so far talked about numerous topics, including taking salt from the floor of the Dead Sea during a trip to the Middle East.

(Tim Bommel/Mo. House Communications)

The Legislative Black Caucus is vowing to fight attempts in both the Missouri House and Senate to pass Republican-sponsored workplace discrimination bills.

Currently, an employee can sue his or her employer if discrimination is found to be a contributing factor in any action taken against that worker.  Both House and Senate versions of the bill would require that discrimination be a motivating factor instead.   Democrat Steve Webb of North County chairs the Black Caucus.

A group of Democratic State Senators is blocking a bill that would redefine Missouri’s workplace discrimination standards.

Among those taking part in the filibuster are Robin Wright-Jones (D, St. Louis) and Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D, University City).  They talked about several other topics besides the discrimination bill on the Senate floor Wednesday, including America’s immigration policies.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Legislation that would change Missouri’s definition on workplace discrimination is getting attention this week on both sides of the Missouri General Assembly.

On Monday, the House version of the bill was approved by that chamber’s Workforce Development Committee.  Under the bill, discrimination would have to be a motivating factor in any action taken against an employee, not a contributing factor as it is now.  Democrat Sylvester Taylor of North County voted against the bill in committee.

(via Flickr/jennlynndesign)

Missouri lawmakers are again trying to change the rules for workplace discrimination cases after similar legislation was vetoed last year.

A Senate committee endorsed legislation Thursday that supporters say would align Missouri laws with federal protections. The measure would require discrimination to be a "motivating factor" - instead of the current lesser standard of a contributing factor - in wrongful termination cases. That bill now goes to the full Senate.

(via Flickr/ChrisYunker)

A two-year-old gender discrimination lawsuit filed by Francine Katz, once the top female executive at Anheuser-Busch, is finally on its way to trial.

The St. Louis Business Journal reports that the Missouri Supreme Court yesterday upheld a June 14 state appeals court ruling that Katz's case does not have to be settled by arbitration.

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East St. Louis is weighing whether to appeal a federal jury's verdict in favor of two former city officials who claimed they were fired because they spoke out about racial discrimination in the city's hiring process.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that jurors in Benton deliberated about four hours before ruling Wednesday in favor of former police and fire commissioners Della Murphy and Wyatt Frazer.

(via Flickr/ChrisYunker)

A former top executive at Anheuser-Busch who sued the company for gender discrimination will be able to take her case to trial.

The Missouri Court of Appeals ruled today that Francine Katz's discrimination case does not have to be settled by arbitration. 

From a summary of the ruling, prepared by the Court of Appeals:

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a bill Friday on workplace discrimination laws, saying it would scale back protections that took decades to gain.

The Democrat took the action outside St. Louis’ Old Courthouse, where the famous Dred Scott case was tried.

The bill requires workers who claim discrimination in wrongful firing lawsuits to prove that bias was a "motivating" factor, not just a "contributing" factor as the law now states.

Nixon said it would be a step backwards.

(via Flickr/jimbowen0306)

The Missouri Senate has approved legislation changing the rules for lawsuits by people claiming they were fired because of discrimination.

Missouri law now requires such workers to prove that discrimination was a "contributing" factor in a firing.

The Senate bill would require a showing that discrimination was a "motivating" factor. It would also limit the amount of damages that could be awarded in such cases.

The Missouri House has voted to change the state's laws about workplace discrimination.

In a 95-59 vote Thursday, the House passed legislation that would change the legal standard people must meet when alleging in a lawsuit that they were fired for discriminatory reasons. The bill now goes to the Senate.