Nixon vetoes business-backed employment law changes

Monday, May 2, 2011

During a ceremony on the steps of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis on Friday, Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed changes to the state's employment laws that business groups said would improve the state's business climate.

Senate Bill 188 was part of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Fix the Six agenda designed to spur economic development within the state.

Advocates said the bill would bring Missouri in line with the federal Civil Rights Act and cap damages in employment discrimination lawsuits.

"Missouri businesses cannot move the state forward and recover from recession without modest protections from frivolous lawsuits and the constant barrage of trial lawyers filing lawsuits hoping for a big payoff," said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber in a statement Friday. "Missouri must change the litigation environment to encourage businesses to invest and stay in Missouri or else we risk being labeled as an anti-employer state."

Under Missouri's Human Rights Act, discrimination must be a contributing factor in the case for an employer to be liable. Federal law sets a higher standard, saying discrimination must be the motivating factor.

"Senate Bill 188 would undermine key provisions of the Missouri Human Rights Act, rolling back decades of progress in protecting civil rights," Gov. Nixon said in a press release Friday. "The bill would make it harder to prove discrimination in the workplace, and would throw new hurdles in the path of those whose rights have been violated. That is unacceptable, and it stops here."

It is possible, Nixon's veto could be overridden by legislators in these final two weeks of the legislative session.

* Hickory House opens in Jackson: Ron and Bobbie Nevils of Jackson have opened Hickory House Restaurant, 2259 E. Jackson Blvd. in Jackson. The restaurant serves made-from-scratch dishes including chicken and dumplings, fried chicken, barbecue and steaks. All of the meat cutting is done in a butcher shop on site, said Ron Nevils, who also grinds his own hamburger meat. After purchasing the former Mazzios Pizza building last year, the Neavils' built on two additions to provide additional restroom and office space. The interior of the building was gutted and replaced with a French country decor designed by Rust & Martin Interiors. The Nevils' retired in Jackson about six years ago, moving from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where they had a contracting business. Hickory House is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Southeast Missourian business reporter Melissa Miller may be contacted at 388-3646 or mmiller@semissourian.com.

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