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Government, Politics & Issues

Mo. Senate passes workplace discrimination bill

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)
Mo. Capitol

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.

“I’d like to see one of their children, for all the corporations that are part of the Chamber, I’d like to hear what they’d have to say when their 16-year-old child is dry-humped," Chappelle-Nadal said.  "That doesn’t sound like a frivolous lawsuit.”

Under the bill, discrimination would have to be a motivating factor, not a contributing factor, in any action taken by an employer against an employee.  It was sponsored by State Senator Brad Lager (R, Savannah).

“All this bill does is bring Missouri practice back into line with federal practice, just like it was done for 40-plus years until appellate judges and Supreme Court judges...through case law, changed the way that employment law operated," Lager said.  "This is not a radical departure from the way that it has been practiced for almost half a century.”

The measure now goes to the Missouri House, which gave first-round approval to a similar bill this week.

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