Lines have been clearly drawn as the state senate starts work on a change in employment discrimination laws that one side says reigns in runaway courts and that the other side thinks will set back civil rights almost half a century.
Northwest Missouri senator Brad Lager says court rulings have taken Missouri’s employment discrimination laws far afield. He wants to limit who can be sued, how much damages can be, tighten the standard of proof and make whistleblowers show that something illegal has happened–not that it might. “This legislation aims at bringing Missouri law back into alignment with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the way that employment law has been practiced in this state for over forty years, ” says Lager.
But critics like Maria Chapelle-Nadal think the proposal is, as she puts it, “shameful.” She says it’s a “slap in the face” to apply a 1964 standard to changed conditions in 2012.
The senate wrapped up its first day of debate by arguing whether age should be a “motivating factor” or a “contributing factor” in a discrimination suit. Lager prefers the tougher “motivating factor” standard that opponents say limits workers’ rights.