The bill, if approved by Governor Eric Greitens, would align Missouri’s Human Rights Act with the federal standard for proving discrimination cases: the motivating factor standard. Currently, Missouri state courts observe a “contributing factor” standard that shifts the burden of proof against employers in discrimination cases.
“There are two different standards for proving discrimination in federal courts and this is the lower of the two standards,” said Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri. “Passage of this bill is a victory for innocent employers and still allows employers that are truly discriminating against members of protected classes to be punished.”
The bill also allows true whistleblowers protection when they report an illegal act of their employer, but prohibits employees from claiming whistleblower protection when the employer has done nothing wrong.
Supervisors liability, used by plaintiffs’ attorneys to obtain a venue they believe is more favorable to plaintiffs, is eliminated. This does not mean supervisors may not be prosecuted for crimes. It means, for employment law purposes, the employer is the company – not the supervisor. In practice, supervisors generally do not have the “deep pockets” the plaintiffs’ attorneys desire and are usually dismissed from the lawsuit once venue has been established.
Contrary to discussion on the House floor, the bill does NOT require cases to be brought in federal court rather than state court.
Very similar legislation was passed and vetoed several times by former Governor Jay Nixon. Associated Industries of Missouri asks Governor Greitens to sign the bill and restore fairness to our state discrimination and whistleblower laws.