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Stricter workplace discrimination standards headed for Missouri House

File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate passed a bill along party lines Thursday that would make it harder for employees to prove discrimination when fired from a job.

Under Senate Bill 43, an employee has to prove "race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, or age" was the main reason for dismissal, not just a contributing factor. The measure now goes to the House.

Farmington Republican Sen. Gary Romine, who sponsored the bill, said it will protect businesses without harming the rights of employees.

  "We've seen people use a discriminatory act to cry wolf, to retaliate against an employer, when we really had discrimination activities going on, and they get lost sometimes in the weeds because of all the other, what I call, frivolous lawsuits taking place," he said.

Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, argued that the bill would put employees in Missouri at a huge disadvantage.

"This is one more example of a bill that takes away the rights of people to get what they need to be able to work in an environment that is culturally safe and truly safe, and when they're not working in that kind of environment to be able to speak out and be truly heard," she said.

Earlier this week, Senate Democrats tried to amend the bill to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, but it failed on a 20-10 vote. Democrats criticized the bill for hours Tuesday before hammering out a compromise early Wednesday morning to scale it back.

A similar measure in the House has been on hold since Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel was cut off from speaking during a public hearing on Feb. 13. House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, has said a second hearing will be conducted so Chapel can resume his testimony, but no date has been set.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:@MarshallGReport

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