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Workplace Discrimination Bill Heard By Mo. House Committee

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Testimony was heard today on legislation that would redefine what constitutes workplace discrimination in Missouri.

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 his former employer, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.  He told the House Committee on Workforce Development and Workplace Safety that the state’s current definition of discrimination is hurting Missouri’s economy.

“Companies are choosing to locate in other states," AuBuchon said.  "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.”

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 theMissouri Association of Trial Attorneystestified 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," Burns said.  "This law will make it much easier for employers to discriminate.”

Committee members did not vote on the bill today.  Governor Jay Nixon (D) vetoed similar billslast yearand in 2011.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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