A Missouri statehouse committee heard testimony Monday on a bill that would redefine what constitutes workplace discrimination. If passed, workplace discrimination would have to be a motivating factor, not just a contributing one, in any wrongful action taken against a worker by an employer, which is the current federal standard.
Attorney Rich AuBuchon spoke in favor of the bill on behalf of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. He says the state’s current definition of discrimination is hurting Missouri’s economy.
“Companies are choosing to locate in other states…and I’m not gonna tell you that this is the only reason, but certainly it is a factor when companies look at the cost of their business in the state of Missouri,” says AuBuchon.
Opponents say the bill would make it easier for employers to fire employees, and that it’s good that Missouri’s workplace discrimination definition is more strict than the federal one.
Jonathan Burns with the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys testified against the bill.
“It dramatically restricts the protections for people who’ve been discriminated against, or fired for reporting illegal conduct that their company has engaged in…this law will make it much easier for employers to discriminate.”
Governor Jay Nixon vetoed similar bills last year and in 2011.