Controversial contract bill drops off House calendar
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A bill seeking to strengthen employment contracts through the required arbitration of sexual harassment, discrimination, and other work-related issues has died in a somewhat unusual manner in the Missouri House.
Rep. Kevin Corlew’s HB 1512, dealing with arbitration agreements, had passed out of committee early on during the legislative session, despite opposition from Democrats. Corlew argued that the legislation would provide a more efficient and fair system, while preventing wrong-doers from hiding behind non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements.
However, after reaching the House floor, the bill was killed this week after Corlew and the House failed to bring the legislation back from the informal calendar. House Rule 47 requires that a bill is dropped off the calendar of the House after lying on the table for 10 days.
The dropping of the bill was applauded by opponents of the bill, who argued that it would make it harder for victims of sexual harassment to access the courts.
Our work fighting sexual harassment is centered on developing policies that create safe and healthy work environments for both employees and employers,” Wendy Doyle, President & CEO of Women’s Foundation, said in a statement. “This legislation would have silenced victims and made it harder to combat the epidemic of sexual harassment in Missouri. We thank Missouri legislators for listening to our concerns and shelving this harmful bill.
Corlew’s bill was part of a broad push by Republicans to limit lawsuits and make the Show-Me State more “friendly” to businesses.
But Corlew’s bill faced a number of issues in its attempted passage through the House, included bipartisan support in opposition of the bill, as well as the continued #MeToo movement, drawing a critical eye of sexual misconduct allegations. In addition to that, the bill also lost support after Attorney General Josh Hawley joined the other attorney generals across the U.S. in signing a letter of support for a federal bill that would ban employment contracts forcing arbitration in alleged sexual harassment and discrimination cases.
While the bill is done in the House, there’s still the possibility that similar bills in the House and Senate could bring the discussion back to the floor.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.