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06 February 2012

Mayer: Senate Adopts Employment Law Changes

Last week we set out to break a lengthy debate in order to advance a bill that would change state laws to mirror federal employment laws when it comes to discrimination. Just before 2 a.m. Thursday morning, the Senate perfected Senate Bill 592 that would do just that.

The measure makes sure Missouri employees will be protected from employers who break the law by having our standards meet the provisions set out in the historic Civil Rights Act. This gives employers and workers better certainty across the board when it comes to their day in court.

The bill changes Missouri law to state that discrimination must be “a motivating factor” rather than “a contributing factor” in wrongful termination lawsuits, which is identical to language in the federal Civil Rights Act. It would also allow for summary judgments, allow any party to demand a jury trial, limit awards for certain damages as outlined in federal law, and exclude managers and supervisors from being held individually liable.

Missouri’s employment law originally resembled federal law, but unfortunately, Missouri courts have drastically changed Missouri employment law over the years. It’s important the people of Missouri, through their elected representatives, ultimately shape our laws.

I believe this is an important step in helping put Missourians back to work. Missouri businesses tell us that by harmonizing our state employment law with federal employment law, they can invest more in hiring new employees rather than expansive legal fees to navigate a current system riddled with uncertainty.

Also this week, the Senate Governmental Accountability Committee will hold another hearing on the failed Mamtek economic development project. After several hearings where the state economic development department was questioned about their role in marketing this poorly vetted project to Missouri communities, the committee will now hear from a national organization on the best practices in other states that could be applied to Missouri. I have charged the committee with recommending any legislative reforms they find necessary to prevent another failed economic development project of this size from happening again. You can learn more about Wednesday’s hearing by clicking here.

Please feel free to contact me with your comments, questions, or issues at the contact information listed below and on my website at

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