HB 1369 -- Wrongful Discharge
This bill creates a cause of action for wrongful discharge.
Employees may sue for wrongful discharge:
(1) if they are discharged for refusing to violate the law or
(2) if the employer violated its own written personnel policy
in dismissing the employee. An employee is not required to have
actual knowledge of the employer's written personnel policy to
claim a violation of that policy; or
(3) if the employer deviates from a customary practice used for
dismissal of employees.
An employee may be discharged at will during a probationary
period, which may not exceed 12 months. Further, employees
maintain the burden of proof in wrongful discharge suits.
Damages available to the employee include back wages and
benefits, plus interest, when the employer violates its own
personnel policy or customary practices regarding dismissal.
The employee has a duty to mitigate damages by seeking other
employment with reasonable diligence. The court may award
attorney's fees, court costs, and relocation expenses.
When an employee claims the discharge was in retaliation for the
employee's refusal to violate the law or public policy, punitive
damages and compensatory damages for physical and mental
distress are available. To obtain punitive damages, the
employee must show by clear and convincing evidence that the
employer engaged in fraud, malice, or reckless disregard for the
rights of the employee.
Employers subject to the bill include those employing 15 or more
people at least 20 weeks per year, and all employees of the
state and its political subdivisions. The bill excludes federal
employees and may not amend or negate the terms of a collective
bargaining agreement. Employees must exhaust an employer's
established internal procedures which may not exceed 90 days
before filing a suit. Lawsuits must be filed within one year of
the date of discharge, but internal procedures will toll that
date, up to 180 days. The complainant may demand a jury trial.
Missouri House of Representatives' Home Page
Last Updated October 5, 2000 at 11:32 am