Associated Industries of Missouri President and CEO Ray McCarty today applauded Governor Greitens’ approval of Senate Bill 43, a comprehensive employment law reform bill.
The bill restores the standard used to evaluate discrimination claims in Missouri state courts to the standard used in federal courts in Missouri and in Missouri state courts until 2007. That year, the Missouri Supreme Court, acting without any legislative oversight, lowered the standard from “motivating factor” to “contributing factor.” This change essentially shifted the burden of proof to the employer to prove they were innocent of discrimination, instead of requiring the plaintiff to prove the employer had discriminated against them. This bill restores the law to the way it was before the Court changed the standard in 2007.
The bill continues to hold supervisors liable for criminal or civil prosecution for offenses against another employee, but clearly states the employer is responsible for employment law claims. This essentially eliminates a tactic used by clever plaintiffs’ attorneys to move cases to a court they believe is more likely to side with the plaintiff in the case. Importantly, this bill does nothing to prevent supervisors from being called as witnesses during a court proceeding alleging discrimination by the employer.
A “whistle-blower” that is truly “blowing the whistle” to authorities on an act by his/her employer that violates a law or regulation would be protected under language in the bill. But those falsely claiming “whistle-blower” protection when the employer has not violated the law or any regulations would no longer be able to claim protection as a “whistle-blower.”
Reasonable caps for punitive and “pain and suffering” damages are included in the bill that closely resemble federal limits on such damages.
“This bill represents many years of work, dating back to 2007 when the Missouri Supreme Court took it upon themselves to change the standard of proof in discrimination cases,” said Ray McCarty. “This employment law reform bill will help Missouri employers that are innocent of discrimination while rightfully allowing those that have discriminated to be punished. Employers in Missouri wholeheartedly support Governor Greitens’ signing of this bill today,” said McCarty.