WashU Expert: Missouri SB 43 would weaken discrimination protections

A bill pending in the Missouri Legislature would make it more difficult for workers who experience discrimination or lose a job because of whistleblowing to hold their employers responsible, says an expert on employment law at Washington University in St. Louis.

Sponsors of Missouri SB 43 and related legislation in the State House “claim that it is necessary to ensure a business-friendly climate, but the real effect of the bill would be to undermine basic civil rights protections and permit retaliation against employees who report violations of the law,” said Pauline Kim, the Daniel Noyes Kirby Professor of Law.

Both Missouri law and federal law forbid employment discrimination on certain bases such as race, sex, or disability. “Although its supporters argue that the bill would simply align Missouri law with federal law, the proposed bill, if passed, would in fact impose an even more stringent standard,” Kim wrote in a recent op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In addition, the bill would abolish existing legal protections for whistleblowers and replace them with a much weaker statutory alternative, according to Kim. “The result will be that employers can retaliate against whistleblowers with impunity, and employees who observe wrongdoing will be hesitant to speak up.”

Missouri SB 43 “would make discrimination claims more difficult to prove than under current federal law,” Kim said. “And would make Missouri’s protections against discrimination and whistleblower retaliation far weaker than those of a majority of other states. The effect would be to reduce protections for Missouri workers in order to address a problem that simply doesn’t exist.”

For more of Kim’s opinions on the bills, visit stltoday.com/news/opinion/bill-undermines-key-worker-protections-in-missouri/article_719c323f-0768-5b38-b0d4-5ed7bce57b5d.html.

Kim is available for media interview at kim@wustl.edu.

Originally published in The Source.