Missouri State Senate

Introduced

SB 490 - The act abrogates all Missouri case law relating to the public policy exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine. Employers are barred from discharging or retaliating against 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, to an employer, serious misconduct of the employer or its agent that violates a clear mandate of public policy as articulated in a constitutional provision, statute, or regulation promulgated pursuant to statute;

• a person who refuses to carry out a directive issued by an employer or its agent that, if completed, would be a serious violation of the law;

• or a person who engages in conduct otherwise protected by statute or regulation where the statute or regulation does not provide for a private right of action.

Employers are defined as entities with 6 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year. The state, its political subdivisions, a corporation wholly owned by the state, an individual employed by an employer, and corporations and associations owned and operated by religious or sectarian groups are not employees and therefor exempt from the provisions of the act.

Exempt, supervisory, managerial, and executive employees and officers who are employed to report the misconduct are also not covered under the act.

The employee's protected conduct shall be the motivating factor in the employer's discharge or retaliation.

Employees have a private right of action for actual but not punitive damages under the act unless another private right of action for damages exists under another state or federal law. Remedies allowed are backpay, reimbursement of medical bills incurred in treatment of mental anguish, and double those amounts as liquidated damages if it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the employer's conduct was outrageous because of the employer's evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of others. The liquidated damages shall be treated as punitive damages and backpay and reimbursement shall be treated as compensatory damages in a bifurcated trial if requested by a party.

Any party may demand a trial by jury.

This act is similar to SCS/HCS/HB 1456 (2006), SCS/SB 168 (2007), SB 1046 (2008), HB 799 (2009), HB 227 (2009),SB 374 (2009), HB 1488 (2010), SS/SB 852 (2010), SCS/SB 188 (2011) that was vetoed by the Governor, HB 1219 (2012), SS/SCS/SB 592 (2012), HB 319 (2013), SB 353 (2013), and HCS/HB 320 (2013).

CHRIS HOGERTY

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