Melinda Henneberger

Melinda Henneberger: Mixed messages on discrimination

Lawmakers in Jefferson City voted on a bill to essentially make it easier to discriminate in the workplace.
Lawmakers in Jefferson City voted on a bill to essentially make it easier to discriminate in the workplace.

A sickening 44 percent of Jewish community centers in the United States — 66 of 148 — have reported receiving bomb threats in 2017, and at the University of Missouri, two young men were arrested this week after a third student reported that they’d been harassing him with anti-Semitic notes and comments since August. The interim chancellor, Hank Foley, has said that the accused could be expelled and that such discriminatory behavior “simply will not be tolerated.” But that same day, Missouri lawmakers were sending a different message.

The Senate voted to approve a bill that would, in essence, make it easier for employers to discriminate based on religion or other protected status. Right now, a worker charging wrongful termination must prove that discrimination was a “contributing” factor in his firing. If the bill becomes law, however, a worker would have to prove it was a “motivating” factor. Republicans had wanted former employees to have to prove that discrimination was the sole factor in their termination, which sounds all but impossible. At this moment in particular, any legislation that suggests that discrimination is not a serious problem is a serious mistake.

Melinda Henneberger, mhenneberger

@kcstar.com

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