Panel to Discuss Discrimination Laws

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JEFFERSON CITY - A house workforce development panel will hear two bills on discrimination in the workplace Tuesday that could help the GOP get around a veto issued by Governor Jay Nixon last month.

The original measure would have required workers bringing wrongful termination lawsuits to prove discrimination was a "motivating factor" in the employer's action.  This is a change from proving the discrimination as simply a contributing factor.  It also would have capped the amount of punitive damages recovered from plaintiffs at $300,000--depending on the size of the former employer.

The bill also would have capped punitive damages to "whistleblowers."  That term refers to those reporting wrongdoings at their jobs.

House Republicans said they don't have the votes to override the veto, but have two new bills they think might help sway the Governor and disapproving Democrats.  The measure most likely to pass is a stand-alone whistleblower legislation.  That contains only the capping of punitive damages awarded to whistleblowers.

A second other measure would be similar to the original measure that was vetoed.  Republicans said they could hopefully use the bill to compromise, but think it might not pass because the first measure was vetoed due to the "motivating factor" provision.