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State legislatures in Wisconsin and Missouri seek to rollback protections against employment discrimination

In recent weeks, state legislatures in Wisconsin and Missouri have sought to make it more difficult for victims of employment discrimination to hold the perpetrators of the discrimination accountable.

In Wisconsin, the State Assembly decided to eliminate the right of victims of employment discrimination to seek compensation under state law for non-economic damages, like the stress one experiences due to financial hardship when his employer fires him for a discriminatory reason. The Wisconsin State Assembly also eliminated the ability of juries to assess punitive damages against employers who discriminate against their employees. The only monetary remedy the Wisconsin State Assembly left intact was compensation for lost wages, benefits, and attorney fees. Under this new law, employers could engage in some types of discrimination without facing any monetary loss at all. For instance, under this new law, employers will not have to pay monetary damages if they subject employees to sexual harassment.

In Missouri, the State Senate voted to make the burden of proof more difficult on victims of employment discrimination. Employment discrimination lawsuit are already incredibly difficult for employees to win. According to a study of cases in federal court, from 1979 through 2006, plaintiffs won 15% of job-discrimination cases. By comparison, in all other civil cases, the win rate was 51%. This new law in Missouri will only make it more difficult for victims of employment discrimination to hold their employers accountable.