HB 1111 - Wrongful Discharge
This bill creates a cause of action for wrongful discharge. An
employer may not terminate an employee without good cause.
Termination includes a layoff longer than two months, the
elimination of a position, or the quitting or retirement by an
employee induced by an act or omission without appropriate
relief by the employer. Good cause may be found in a decision:
(1) based upon relevant factors and circumstances, including job
performance and conduct on the job, or; (2) stemming from the
employer's good faith exercise of business judgment in
reorganizing its operation.
To be covered by the statute, an employee must have been
employed by the same employer for one year and have worked at
least 520 hours during the 26 weeks preceding the termination.
An employer and employee may stipulate by express written
agreement any specific criteria which will constitute good
cause. Such criteria must be consistently enforced and not
applied in a disparate manner. Employers and employees may
waive the requirement for good cause and agree, instead, that
the employer will provide severance pay upon a termination for
any reason other than the employee's willful misconduct. Such
severance pay would be equal to at least one month's pay for
every year of employment, up to 30 month's worth. Good cause is
not required when there is an express agreement of employment
for a specified length of time.
An employee has 180 days from the date of termination to file a
complaint with the director of the Department of Labor and
Industrial Relations. This time limit is suspended while an
employee pursues internal remedies with the employer. Upon
terminating an employee, the employer has 10 days to deliver to
the employee a written statement of all the reasons for the
termination, together with a copy of the wrongful discharge
An employer may file a complaint with the department to
determine if good cause exists for terminating a particular
employee. The employer must notify the employee of its
intention to file the complaint, and explain the reasons
constituting good cause. The employee has 21 days to file a
response. The department is required to assess a filing fee of
$50 from the complainant. This fee may be waived for the
The department will adopt rules to regulate arbitration to
settle these complaints. These rules will control all wrongful
discharge arbitration cases, the Administrative Procedure Act
and other Missouri statutes notwithstanding.
A complainant employee has the burden of proving that a
termination was without good cause. A complainant employer has
the burden of proving that there is good cause for termination.
An arbitrator may award the employee reinstatement, backpay,
reimbursement for lost benefits, severance pay (if not
reinstated), and reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. An
arbitrator may not grant any other awards, such as damages for
pain and suffering, libel, emotional distress, or fraud. An
arbitrator may not award punitive damages. If any of these
other damages are awarded elsewhere, the monetary award to the
employee must be reduced proportionately.
If an employee's complaint is dismissed and found to be
frivolous, the arbitrator may award the employer reasonable
attorneys' fees and costs. An employer's complaint need only be
dismissed -- and not found frivolous -- before the arbitrator
may award attorneys' fees and costs to the employee.
Either party to an arbitration may go to circuit court for the
vacation, modification, or enforcement of the arbitrator's
award. Such an application must be made within 90 days of the
award. A court may vacate or modify an award only if it finds
evidence of fraud, misconduct prejudicing a party, the
arbitrator exceeded his or her powers, the arbitrator committed
prejudicial error of law, or another ground exists pursuant to
the Uniform Arbitration Act.
Employers must post a copy of the wrongful discharge law in a
prominent place at the work site. Violation of this section
warrants a fine of up to $400.
An employer found to have retaliated against an employee for
filing a complaint may be liable for punitive damages, as well
as reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.
Missouri House of Representatives' Home Page
Last Updated October 30, 1996 at 10:41 am