October 2020 Missouri HR Legal Updates

Kansas City Passes CROWN ACT

What happened?
On October 1, 2020, the Kansas City, City Council has passed Ordinance No. 200837, also known as the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act.

What are the details?
The CROWN Act modifies the definition of “Race” to include “traits historically associated with race including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” This will protect employees with certain hairstyles from harassment and discrimination related to their hair.

Ordinance No. 200837 can be found here.

An article discussing this ordinance can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Kansas City employers should review and update their workplace policies to reflect this new protected characteristic.

July 2020 Missouri HR Legal Updates

Missouri Limits Punitive Damages in Workplace Safety Lawsuits

What happened?
On July 1, 2020, Governor Mike Parson signed SB 591, which modifies various provisions relating to civil actions.

What are the details?
On July 1, 2020, Missouri has passed SB 591, creating additional restrictions for plaintiffs when filing for punitive damages. SB 591 provides that punitive damages will only be awarded if the plaintiff “proves by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally harmed the plaintiff without just cause or acted with a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others.” This language is a change to the previously lower burden on plaintiffs for establishing punitive damages. Additionally, plaintiffs may now only seek punitive damages by submitting a written motion for leave to file a pleading seeking punitive damages and can no longer seek them in an initial pleading. Such motions must be supported by evidence “establishing a reasonable basis for recovery of punitive damages.” SB 591 also establishes that the amount of punitive damages shall not be based, in whole or in part, on harm to nonparties.

Plaintiffs must file a motion for punitive damages no later than 120 days before the final pre-trial conference or trial date. The court must then rule on the motion no later than 45 days after a hearing on the motion, or if no hearing is held, after the defendant has filed its response to the motion.

The full text of SB 591 can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers in Missouri should consult their legal counsel if they are involved in a civil action.

February 2020 Missouri HR Legal Updates

“Ban the Box” Ordinance

What happened?
The City of St. Louis passed “ban the box” legislation prohibiting employers in the City of St. Louis, Missouri from basing job hiring or promotion decisions on applicants’ criminal histories.

What are the details?
The Ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2021, for employers with at least 10 employees unless the employer can demonstrate its decision is based on all available information, including consideration of the frequency, recentness, and severity of the criminal history, and that the history is reasonably related to or bear on the duties and responsibilities of the position.

Further, the Ordinance prohibits an employer from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until after it has been determined an applicant is otherwise qualified for the position.

The Ordinance also prohibits employers from publishing job advertisements excluding applicants based on criminal history, as well as barring employers from including statements excluding applications based on criminal history in job application forms and other employer-generated forms used in the hiring process. Employers also are banned from seeking to obtain publicly available information concerning job applicants’ criminal history.

What do employers need to do?
City of St. Louis employers covered by the Ordinance should consider taking these steps to ensure they follow the Ordinance’s requirements:

  • Review employment applications to ensure they do not include any prohibited inquiries about an applicant’s criminal history.
  • Review their advertisements (paper and electronic) soliciting applications and remove any language that states applicants will not be considered for employment because of their criminal history.
  • Educate key employees in the hiring process about the Ordinance’s requirements.
  • Update forms and practices for inquiring into an applicant’s criminal record, after the initial employment application process is completed.

Violations of the Ordinance may expose employers to significant penalties. For the first violation, an employer will receive a warning issued by the Office of the License Collector, or an order requiring that it come into compliance within 30 days. For the second violation, an employer will receive an order issued by the Office of the License Collector requiring that it come into compliance within 30 days and a civil penalty as determined by the License Collector. After three violations, the Office of the License Collector may revoke an employer’s business operating license.

Article: https://www.jacksonlewis.com/publication/city-st-louis-missouri-passes-new-ban-box-ordinance

Bill: https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/internal-apps/legislative/upload/Ordinances/BOAPdf/71074%20Combined.pdf