One of the first issues reaching the state senate this year will change Missouri’s discrimination laws.

Missouri’s business groups think it’s too easy for employees or former employees to sue them for discrimination. Sponsor Brad Lager of Savannah says court rulings have tipped the balance in these cases away from businesses. And Rich Aubuchon of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce agrees. He says Missouri’s law “differs significantly” from the federal law and harms Missouri employers.

But Kansas City employee rights lawyer Mark Jess says damaging the rights of employees is not a path to improved economic development. “There’s not one shred of evidence that indicates any empoloyer ever left the state of Missouri or refused to expand in the state of Missouri or refused to come to the state of Missouri becaue of the human rigahts act,” he says.

The bill makes it harder to win discrimination complaints in state courts, limits damage awards, and changes standards for whistleblower actions. Backers say it puts Missouri in line with federal law. Governor Nixon vetoed a similar bill last year.

(The bill is SB562)

AUDIO: Listen to committee hearing   1:19:36  mp3