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Workplace discrimination bills getting attention in Mo. House, Senate

Mo. Capitol
(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)
Mo. Capitol

Legislation that would change Missouri’s definition on workplace discrimination is getting attention this week on both sides of the Missouri General Assembly.

On Monday,the House version of the billwas approved by that chamber’s Workforce Development Committee.  Under the bill, discrimination would have to be a motivating factor in any action taken against an employee, not a contributing factor as it is now.  DemocratSylvester Taylor of North Countyvoted against the bill in committee.

“At the federal level, they passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964," Taylor said.  "As we learned more and grew more, states did more – states stepped in and said, ‘we need to do this and we need to do that’…what (Republican lawmakers) want to do is take back 47 years of progression.”

Supporters say it would align Missouri’s workplace discrimination definition with the federal standard, and would help curb the number of frivolous lawsuits filed against Missouri businesses.

The Missouri Senate also began debate ontheir version of the bill Monday.  President Pro-tem Rob Mayer(R, Dexter) says passing it is one of their top priorities this year.

“It will create some certainty in the area of the law where the courts have been gravitating away from what was once the law here in the state of Missouri," Mayer said.

Senate debate is expected to resume Tuesday.  A similar bill was vetoed last year by Governor Jay Nixon(D).

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.