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Missouri House votes to restore balance and justice in Missouri courts hearing discrimination cases

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Missouri courts will spend less time hearing meritless discrimination claims as a result of legislation given approval today by the Missouri House of Representatives. Representatives voted in support of Senate Bill 43, legislation sponsored by Sen. Gary Romine, a Republican from Farmington, and handled in the House by Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, a Republican from Carrollton. The bill now goes to Gov. Greitens for his signature.

Under Senate Bill 43, an employee can bring a discrimination claim if that employee’s protected class is the motivating factor for the adverse action. The bill states that the employee’s protected classification must have actually played a role in the adverse action or decision and had a determinative influence on the action. The employee must prove that the action was the direct proximate cause of the claimed damages.

“The Missouri Chamber has championed similar legislation for nearly a decade,” said Missouri Chamber President and CEO Dan Mehan. “When passed by the General Assembly, similar bills were vetoed by former Gov. Jay Nixon. As a result, Missouri is now considered one of the easiest states in the nation in which to bring frivolous discrimination lawsuits.”

The legislation abrogates a long line of recent court decisions which eroded the intent of the Missouri Human Rights Act making sure employers have a fair shake in these types of lawsuits. Senate Bill 43 would also establish caps on discrimination lawsuits at $500,000 for Missouri’s largest employers.

“Most Missourians want courts that are balanced and fair for all parties, instead of protecting a system that makes a handful of trial attorneys who know how to game a broken system rich,” said Mehan. “A balanced system will do much more to end discrimination than an unjust system that compensates fake claims.”

The legislation includes a provision to codify the existing common law exceptions and make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discharge or retaliate against an individual who is a whistleblower of his or her employer’s unlawful conduct.

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