AIM opposes allowing new discrimination lawsuits against employers
On Wednesday, Associated Industries of Missouri president Ray McCarty testified before the Senate Progress and Development Committee against SB 237, a bill that would establish a new protected class for sexual orientation and gender identity. McCarty started by saying many companies had established policies prohibiting discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered employees, but establishing a right to bring a lawsuit is an entirely different matter.
“We oppose this bill because it will allow a new line of lawsuits against employers that take action against employees that believe they have been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said McCarty. “With the current low standards of proof for discrimination cases brought under the Missouri Human Rights Act, which only require such discrimination to have contributed to the employer’s decision, the employer is left nearly defenseless in these cases, especially when it may not be apparent that an employee is, in fact, a member of one of these new protected classes. If an employer takes an action against an employee and the employee later claims to be a man trapped in a woman’s body, or vice versa, the burden is on the employer to prove that played no role in their decision to take action against the employee,” said McCarty.
Another business group also testified in opposition to the bill. One business spoke in favor of the bill, as did several civic groups, cities, and social groups. The Committee took no action at the hearing.
The Senate Progress and Development Committee is the only committee with a majority of Democrats in the Missouri Senate. The Chairman of the Committee, Senate Minority Leader Joe Keaveny, is also the sponsor of the bill.