HB 1219 -- UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATORY EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES (Elmer)


COMMITTEE OF ORIGIN: Committee on Workforce Development and

Workplace Safety


This bill changes the laws regarding unlawful discriminatory

employment practices under the Missouri Human Rights Law and

establishes the Whistleblower Protection Act.


UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATORY EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES UNDER THE MISSOURI

HUMAN RIGHTS LAW


The bill:


(1) Defines the term "because of" or "because”, as it relates to

a decision or action, to mean the protected criterion was a

motivating factor unless the decision or action has an adverse

impact on the protected criterion, in which case courts must rely

on judicial interpretation of federal civil rights and employment

discrimination laws;


(2) Revises the term "employer" by specifying that it is a

person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has six or

more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more

calendar weeks in the current or preceding year and does not

include an individual employed by an employer; certain tax-exempt

private membership clubs, excluding labor organizations; or

corporations and associations owned and operated by religious or

sectarian groups;

 

(3) Specifies that any party to certain unlawful discriminatory

practice actions may demand a trial by jury;

 

(4) Specifies that an award of damages may include all future

pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental

anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses,

and punitive damages awarded;

 

(5) Specifies that the amount of damages awarded for each plaintiff

cannot exceed the amount of the actual back pay plus interest, court

costs, reasonable attorney fees, and other damages of up to $50,000

in the case of an employer with six to 100 employees in each of 20

or more weeks in the current or preceding calendar year; up to

$100,000 for an employer with 101 to 200 employees; up to $200,000

for an employer with 201 to 500 employees; and up to $300,000 for an

employer with more than 500 employees;

 

(6) Prohibits punitive damages from being awarded against the state

or any of its political subdivisions except for claims for

discriminatory housing practices authorized in Section 213.040, RSMo; and

 

(7) Specifies that the provisions regarding damage awards do not

apply to an alleged violation of Section 213.040, RSMo, unlawful

housing practices; Section 213.045, discrimination in commercial

real estate loans; and Section 213.050, discrimination in real

estate sales and rental organizations, but the provisions will apply

to an alleged violation of Section 213.070, other specified unlawful

discriminatory practices, by an employer.

 

WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ACT

 

The Whistleblower Protection Act is established which places in

statute existing common law exceptions to the at-will employment

doctrine making it an unlawful employment practice for an employer

to discharge or retaliate against an individual who is a protected

person. The bill:

 

(1) Defines the term "because of" or "because”, as it relates to a

decision or action, to mean the protected criterion was a motivating

factor;

 

(2) Defines “proper authorities” as a governmental or law

enforcement agency or an officer or the employee’s human resources

representative employed by the employer;

 

(3) Defines “protected person” as a person who has reported to the

proper authorities an unlawful act of the employer or its agent or

serious misconduct of the employer or its agent that violates a

state law or regulation or a rule of a governmental entity; a person

who has refused to carry out a directive issued by the employer or

its agent that if completed would be a violation of the law; or a

person who engages in conduct otherwise protected by statute or

regulation;

 

(4) Specifies that the provisions of the act will provide the

exclusive remedy for any and all unlawful employment practices

described in the act and voids any common law causes of action to

the contrary;

 

(5) Specifies that a protected person aggrieved by a violation will

have a private right of action for damages in a circuit court. The

Missouri Human Rights Commission will not have jurisdiction to

review or adjudicate claims brought under these provisions. The

court may grant as relief, as it deems appropriate, any permanent or

temporary injunction, temporary restraining order, or other order

and may award to the plaintiff actual and punitive damages;

 

(6) Specifies that any party to an action under these provisions

may demand a trial by jury; and

 

(7) Specifies that the court may award the plaintiff actual and

punitive damages. An award of damages may include all future

pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental

anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses,

and punitive damages awarded. The amount of all damages awarded for

each complainant cannot exceed the amount of the actual back pay

plus interest, other equitable relief, and other damages of up to

$50,000 in the case of an employer with six to 100 employees in each

of 20 or more weeks in the current or preceding calendar year; up to

$100,000 for an employer with 101 to 200 employees; up to $200,000

for an employer with 201 to 500 employees; and up to $300,000 for an

employer with more than 500 employees.

 

FISCAL NOTE: No impact on state funds in FY 2013, FY 2014, and FY 2015.