Among the many obstacles that Missouri’s Senate Bill 43 placed in front of Missouri workers attempting to receive compensation for employer malfeasance, it also shielded those responsible for perpetrating sexual misconduct in the workplace from being directly held accountable. An employee can still sue his or her employer for fostering a hostile work environment, but the individual responsible for the sexual misconduct can no longer be sued under Missouri law.
SB 43 featured a litany of amendments to the Missouri Human Rights Act that garnered criticism from both the ACLU and the NAACP. Nonetheless, proponents of both the bill and this measure claim that rolling back worker protections will create a better investment climate for businesses in Missouri, thus encouraging more businesses to move here.
There is very little evidence that shielding individuals from sexual misconduct claims produce a better business environment.
New Law Makes it Easier for Offenders to Find New Employment
One unfortunate consequence of the new law is that it makes it easier for those who have cost their company millions of dollars in sexual harassment settlements to find a new job. The offender’s name can appear in court documents, but cannot be named as the defendant. To what extent this improves Missouri’s business and investment climate remains unclear.
When a company does due diligence on a potential recruit, it generally looks for the individual in an online database known as MissouriCase.net. Since offenders are not named as defendants in these lawsuits, it will make it more difficult for prospective employers to uncover red flags on new employees.
Victims of Sexual Harassment Are Still Entitled to Damages
Even though the new protections for those who perpetrate sexual harassment in the workplace make no sense, the companies they work for are still accountable for having fostered an environment in which their employees were allowed to behave unlawfully.
However, this will require the victim to make the incident known to either Human Resources or management. An employee must be able to demonstrate that the employer was negligent in their behavior.
An employer is legally responsible for protecting an employee from another employee or manager who has acted inappropriately toward him or her in the workplace. The victim must be able to show that the company’s inaction created a hostile work environment.
Hostile work environments are in turn defined as being places where an employee feels threatened, intimidated, or uncomfortable.
Since most sexual harassment lawsuits hinge on the plaintiff being able to prove that the company acted negligently in attempting to curb the unwanted behavior, it is imperative for the victim in each case to involve legal counsel as early as possible. A legal team will help the victim get the satisfaction he or she deserves and hold the company responsible for fostering a hostile work environment.
Have You Been the Victim of Sexual Harassment?
If so, you need to involve a lawyer early in the process. HKM Employment Law of Kansas City has handled several cases under the new law and understands how to work a case from the ground up, getting you the evidence you need to win in court. Give us a call at 816.607.4691 and we will let you know precisely what kind of evidence you will need to prove your case.