Missouri lawmakers pushing changes to discrimination suits

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Missouri lawmakers are considering raising the standard to sue for discrimination and capping damages in those cases.

St. Louis attorney Jon Berns told The Associated Press Friday that policy would have meant limits on harassment and discrimination lawsuits that have plagued the troubled Corrections Department.

The Kansas City alternative weekly The Pitch reported the state has paid more than $7.5 million in settlements and judgments from 2012 to 2016 on harassment and discrimination claims by prison employees.

The legislation would require plaintiffs bringing discrimination lawsuits to prove that race, religion, sex or other protected status was the motivating reason for discrimination or termination, rather than just a contributing factor. It also would cap damages.

Backers say the change is needed because it’s too easy to sue for discrimination.