5/9/2017 – Yesterday, the Missouri Legislature passed sweeping amendments to Missouri’s employment discrimination law to bring the law more in line with federal law, making it harder to prove employment discrimination and limiting damages for employment discrimination claims. The changes include the following:
- Standard of Proof. The proof requirement will be changed from “contributing factor” to “motivating factor.” The current “contributing factor” standard requires the employee to prove only that discrimination was one of many factors that went into the adverse employment decision. The current standard prevents summary judgment in most cases.
- Claims against Employees. Claims will be allowed only against the employer. Other employees and supervisors will no longer have liability under the statute.
- Damage Caps. All damages, other than back pay, will be capped depending on the size of the employer. The caps range from $50,000 to $500,000, including punitive damages.
- Private Clubs Exempt. Private membership clubs that are tax exempt under 28 USC § 501(c) will also be exempt from the discrimination statute.
- Whistleblower Claims. The legislature has codified Missouri common law regarding whistleblower claims but has set the same “motivating factor” standard of proof that will apply to discrimination claims. Damages will be limited to back pay, medical bills related to the violation, plus double damages if the employer acted with evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of others. Punitive damages will be eliminated. In addition, attorneys’ fees can be recovered.
This legislation will go into effect on August 28, 2017.