HB1494 Changes sexual harassment law and law regarding other discrimination actions.
Sponsor: May, Brian H. (108) Effective Date:00/00/0000
CoSponsor: Monaco, Ralph A. (49) LR Number: 3496L.02C
Last Action: COMMITTEE: JUDICIARY
02/16/2000 - HCS Reported Do Pass (H)
HCS HB 1494 & 1384
Next Hearing:Hearing not scheduled
Calendar:Bill currently not on calendar
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* Committee * Introduced

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BILL SUMMARIES

COMMITTEE

HCS HB 1494 & 1384 -- DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS

SPONSOR:  May (108)

COMMITTEE ACTION:  Voted "do pass" by the Committee on Judiciary
by a vote of 10 to 6 with 1 present.

This substitute modifies several procedures relating to filing
claims alleging unlawful discrimination.  The time limit for
filing, before the Commission on Human Rights, a claim alleging
unlawful discrimination relating to employment or public
accommodation is extended from 180 to 300 days from the alleged
conduct.  The commission is required to issue a letter
explaining the claimant's right to bring a civil action when the
commission terminates its processing of the complaint or if the
complainant requests a letter after filing the complaint.
Currently, complainants may request a letter after 180 days from
filing the complaint.  The time limit for filing a civil action
is extended from 180 to 300 days from the date of the
commission's letter.  The substitute also authorizes jury trials
for these actions, eliminates the current requirement that civil
actions must be filed within 2 years of the alleged act, and
specifies that plaintiffs may be awarded damages for mental
anguish, humiliation, mental suffering, or emotional distress.
In addition, the substitute eliminates the upper age limit of 70
for claiming age discrimination in a state claim.

The substitute has an emergency clause.

FISCAL NOTE:  No impact on state funds.

PROPONENTS:  Supporters say that jury trials should be allowed
for state discrimination claims because a jury of 12 members of
the community is a more appropriate trier of fact than one
judge.  Currently, plaintiffs who want a jury trial on such
claims must file their claims in federal court, which is more
costly.  It is important to allow jury trials on these claims
because of fairness.

Testifying for the bill were Representatives Bray and Monaco;
National Employment Lawyers Association; Missouri Association of
Trial Attorneys; Missouri Commission on Human Rights; and Lisa
Van Amburg.

OPPONENTS:  Those who oppose the bill say that there are no
limits on damage awards for state discrimination claims.
Allowing jury trials on state discrimination claims would
encourage plaintiffs to file such claims which would burden the
state court system and increase costs to employers.

Testifying against the bill were Southwestern Bell; Associated
Industries of Missouri; Missouri Chamber of Commerce; Enterprise
Rent-A-Car; Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City; Missouri
Merchants and Manufacturers; and Missouri Organization of
Defense Lawyers.

Katharine Barondeau, Legislative Analyst


INTRODUCED

HB 1494 -- Discrimination Claims

Co-Sponsors:  May (108), Monaco, Bray, Harlan, Hosmer, Smith,
Carter

This bill includes several provisions relating to state
discrimination actions.  The bill eliminates the upper age limit
of 70 for claiming age discrimination and specifies that sexual
harassment is an unlawful discriminatory practice.  Sexual
harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for
sexual favors, and other conduct of a sexual nature when
submitting to the conduct is a condition of employment or used
as the basis for employment decisions.  Conduct of a sexual
nature also constitutes sexual harassment when it substantially
interferes with a person's work performance or creates an
intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
Employers are responsible for the acts of their agents and
supervisory employees when those acts constitute sexual
harassment regardless of whether the employer knew or should
have known of the conduct.

In addition, the bill modifies several procedures relating to
filing claims alleging unlawful discrimination.  The time limit
for filing, before the Commission on Human Rights, a claim
alleging unlawful discrimination relating to employment or
public accommodation is extended from 180 to 300 days from the
alleged conduct.  The commission is required to issue a letter
explaining the claimant's right to bring a civil action when the
commission terminates its processing of the complaint or if the
complainant requests a letter after filing the complaint.
Currently, complainants may request a letter after 180 days from
filing the complaint.  The time limit for filing a civil action
is extended from 180 to 300 days from the date of the
commission's letter.  The bill also authorizes jury trials for
these actions, eliminates the current requirement that civil
actions must be filed within 2 years of the alleged act, and
specifies that plaintiffs may be awarded damages for mental
anguish, humiliation, mental suffering, or emotional distress.

The bill has an emergency clause.


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