Missouri workers’ right to sue their companies for workplace discrimination has been the subject of widespread tort reform over the past couple of years. The controversial SB 43 included measures that:
- Shield perpetrators of sexual misconduct from being directly sued by their victims.
- Make it easier for employers to discriminate against their employees.
- Limits punitive damages for retaliatory firings.
- Roll back protections for whistleblowers.
Now, the Republican-controlled legislature is looking to further limit the scope and potential damages that can be recovered by employees that have suffered racial, sexual, age, or disability-related discrimination. With super-majorities in both legislative chambers and control of the governorship, it seems likely that workers are going to bear the brunt of new regulations that raise the burden of proof for plaintiffs and lower their compensatory damages.
What is the Logic Behind Limiting Damages on Liability Lawsuits?
Proponents of these measures claim that the capping damages on labor lawsuits will improve Missouri’s legal climate for businesses. This will supposedly attract new businesses into the state. While that is debatable, it puts Missouri’s workers in a difficult position. Since the burden of proof has been raised in discrimination lawsuits, workers must now be able to prove that discrimination was the sole motivating factor in their being passed up for a promotion or having their employment wrongfully terminated.
What does this mean for Missouri’s labor force and those that are unfairly being discriminated against by their employers?
Navigating the New Legislation While Filing a Discrimination Lawsuit
While the political climate in Missouri is certainly moving away from labor and toward big business, it is still illegal to fire or mistreat employees based on race, gender, and other protected categories. Missouri is no different than most other states in that regard. SB 43, however, limits the amount of total damages that an employee can receive based on the size of the individual company. This does not make a whole lot of sense in terms of the law, since a smaller company does not commit a lesser crime, and there is no consideration for the amount of emotional distress the company caused its employee. But nonetheless, Missouri employees are still entitled to damages for being unfairly treated.
For employees who have been wrongfully discharged under the new legislation, the surest way to recover the damages you deserve is to involve a lawyer as early in the process as possible. This will allow you to keep a timeline of events as they happen in order to make it easier to prove your case under the higher standard of proof.
While one can only guess what the Missouri legislature will do next to roll back workers’ protections, please know that no matter how daunting the battle may seem, the law is still on your side. If you have been mistreated by your employer because of your race, nation of origin, religion, gender, age, or disability, it is illegal under Missouri and Federal law.
Has Your Employer Discriminated Against You?
If so, HKM Employment Attorneys of Kansas City can still help you get the money that you deserve. Give us a call at 816.607.4691 and we will begin discussing your case immediately.