Employment Law Reform Bill Clears Senate Committee
January 12 – Senator Brad Lager’s SB 592 was approved today by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment, chaired by Senator Lager. Of the senators present, only Senator Tim Green and Senator Jolie Justus voted against the bill, which is a priority for Associated Industries of Missouri and other employer groups this year. Action came much quicker this year – a similar bill did not clear the committee until February 23 last year . The bill was also reported to the Senate floor and will be eligible for floor debate in as early as next week. SB 592 would change Missouri’s standard for discrimination in dismissal decisions to mirror the federal law standard under the Human Rights Act. In order to claim discrimination, an employee would have to prove discrimination was a “motivating” factor, rather than a “contributing” factor, in the employer’s decision to dismiss the employee. The bill would also implement common sense reforms to Missouri’s “whistle-blower” statutes, requiring an employee that claims status as a “whistle-blower” to be reporting an activity that is truly illegal, in violation of state or federal regulations or a violation of public policy. Last year, similar legislation was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon. Associated Industries of Missouri president McCarty testified in favor of the legislation, along with most major employer representatives.
Another priority bill for Associated Industries of Missouri, SB 572, sponsored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey, was heard earlier this week in committee, and action on the bill is expected next week. The bill contains amendments to the workers’ compensation law that would prevent employees from suing each other in workplace accidents, restore coverage for occupational diseases within the workers’ compensation law, and bring reasonable reform and a moderate funding increase to the Second Injury Fund. Associated Industries president Ray McCarty provided testimony in support of the bill, along with other major statewide business associations. As expected, the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys testified in opposition to the legislation.