Workers’ compensation fixes heard in House committee
The effort to fix court-induced problems with Missouri’s workers’ compensation system turned to the the Missouri House of Representatives as Sen. Dave Schatz presented two of his bills in front of the employment security committee.
Under Senate Bill 113, Missouri employers could not use workers’ compensation claims as motivation to fire or otherwise discriminate against injured employees. The bill was necessitated by a 2014 Missouri Supreme Court decision. The court’s ruling in Templemire v. W&M Welding broadened the state’s standard. It opened the door to additional lawsuits due to the lower “contributing factor” standard established by the court.
The proposed “motivating” standard has already been passed by the Missouri Senate. Changing Missouri’s law to look for motivation in these cases will bring the state in line with federal law and help improve Missouri’s legal climate — a major initiative advocated by the state’s business community and being pursued by the Missouri General Assembly and Gov. Eric Greitens.
The same committee also heard Senate Bill 66, sponsored by Sen. Schatz. This bill addresses the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision in Greer v. Sysco Foods, allowing workers to re-open their workers’ compensation claims if they decide to seek additional medical treatments—even years after a doctor says they have recovered. Senate Bill 66 addresses this concern by stopping temporary workers’ compensation benefits once an employee reaches maximum medical improvement, the point when a physician determines the employee’s condition is stable and is not expected to further improve.