SB 353 - Currently, under the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA), a practice is unlawful when the protected trait is a contributing factor in the decision to discriminate. This act changes that standard to a motivating factor standard except in adverse impact cases. In those cases, states shall follow federal anti-discrimination law.
Currently, persons acting in the interest of employers are considered employers under the MHRA and are liable for discriminatory practices. This act modifies the definition of employer to exclude those individuals. The act similarly excludes individuals employed by employers, and tax exempt private membership clubs (that are not labor organizations) from the definition.
Parties to a discrimination case under the MHRA may demand a jury trial.
The court may award the plaintiff actual and punitive damages, and court costs and attorneys fees to the prevailing party. Damages may include future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and other nonpecuniary losses.
Damages awarded for employment cases under the MHRA and whistleblower actions shall not exceed back pay, interest on back pay, other equitable relief, court costs, and other damages of $50,000 for employers with 5 to 100 employees, $100,000 for employers with 101 to 200 employees, $200,000 for employers with 201 to 500 employees, or $300,000 for employers with more than 500 employees. Punitive damages shall not be awarded against the state of Missouri or political subdivisions in MHRA cases except for in discriminatory housing practices cases. The damage caps shall not apply in housing cases.
The act abrogates all Missouri case law relating to the public policy exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine. Employers are barred from discharging the following persons:
• a person who reports an unlawful act of the employer or its agent to governmental or law enforcement agencies, officer, or the employee's human resources representative employed by the employer;
• a person who reports serious misconduct of the employer or its agent that violates a clear mandate of public policy as articulated in a constitutional provision, statute, regulation promulgated pursuant to statute, or a rule created by a governmental body;
• a person who refuses to carry out a directive issued by an employer or its agent that, if completed, would be a violation of the law;
• or a person who engages in conduct otherwise protected by statute or regulation.
This act is similar to HB 1456 (2006), SB 168 (2007), SB 1046 (2008), HB 799 (2009), HB 227 (2009),SB 374 (2009), HB 1488 (2010), SB 852 (2010), SB 188 (2011), HB 1219 (2012), SS/SCS/SB 592 (2012), HB 319 (2013), and HB 320 (2013).