Workplace discrimination bill meets resistance in Senate

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JEFFERSON CITY - Workplace discrimination was the topic of conversation on the Senate floor for close to five hours Monday night as lawmakers debated perfecting Senate Bill 43.

The bill, proposed by Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, seeks to modify laws relating to unlawful discrimination in the workplace.

According to Romine, cases of discrimination in Missouri need to be handled federally rather than through the state.

"There is a tremendous imbalance because right now because we have a lower standard known as contributing factor when these cases are decided," Romine said. "So with that Mr. president this bill will bring us back to the federal standards and the standards of the states that surround us."

Shortly after calling for the perfection of the bill, Romine was met with great opposition from democrats, who cited concerns that the bill would only make it harder for Missourians to pursue workplace discrimination cases in a court of law.

"This bill is particularly difficult for many of us to stomach. Even more so than many of the other controversial bills that we happen to deal with in this body," Sen. Kiki Curls, D-Kansas City, in opposition of the bill. "We know we have had bills in the past that may have been similar in some ways. I get it, I don't agree with it, yes there's been some emotion behind it, but this is by far the worst bill we've had relative to some of those issues and it's hurtful, it is."

Sen. Jill Schuup, D-St. Louis, called for an amendment to the bill, which would add sexual orientation and gender identification to the protected classes in the bill.

The timing of the debate over this bill, comes only two weeks after Missour's President of the NAACP was silenced during a house committee hearing for testify against the house sister bills of senate bill 43.

Motioned for a lay over, no decision was reached regarding the perfection of the bill, or on Schuup's amendment and will need to be brought up in a future senate session.