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Government, Politics & Issues

Mo. Legislative Black Caucus opposing workplace discrimination bills

(Tim Bommel/Mo. House Communications)
(l-r) State Rep. Steve Webb (D, North County) and Tishaura Jones (D, St. Louis) speak out against GOP-sponsored bills that would redefine workplace discrimination in Missouri.

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.

“We’re not condoning that people bring frivolous lawsuits, but what we are saying is we’re not gonna stand for people not being able to bring a lawsuit if they’re discriminated against," Webb told reporters at a press conference at the State Capitol.

The bill’s supporters say it would make Missouri more business friendly and would help reduce frivolous lawsuits.  State Representative Tishaura Jones (D, St. Louis) disagrees.

“Opponents say that (the bill would) bring (Missouri's workplace discrimination definition) into alignment with federal civil rights," Jones said.  "Well that may be true, but we applaud Missouri for having a higher standard…we don’t know of any cases where business has decided not to locate to Missouri or has left Missouri because of our higher standard in civil rights law.”

The House Rules committee passed that chamber’s version of the bill today, and it next goes to the House floor for debate.  The Senate version, though, is being blocked by Democrats.  A similar bill was vetoed last year by Governor Jay Nixon (D).

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