Missouri Should Protect—Not Punish—Victims of Workplace Harassment

If the Missouri Legislature has its way this year, it will soon be easier to discriminate against women in the state than anywhere else in the nation. Two bills introduced in the Missouri state Senate will make it harder for victims of discrimination to find justice.

Molly Adams

Senate Bill 43 rolls back rights that women, religious minority and racial minority groups have fought so hard to win. SB 43 will undo protections currently in place to protect Americans from discriminatory actions in the workplace. Senate Bill 45 opens the doors for serial abusers at Missouri workplaces by locking people into closed arbitration agreements.

Politicians claim that these bills make it better for business. We disagree. You know what’s bad for business? Sexual harassment and discrimination. Making hostile workplaces the new norm is not the kind of change Missouri needs.

What SB 43 actually does is protect workplace harassers and silence victims. This bill protects the abuser and punishes the victim by not protecting them and leaving them open to retaliation. Sexual harassment at work is already underreported—this bill will have a chilling effect on those who report abuse.

“Every damn woman still has a story,” former Fox News Anchor Gretchen Carlson said about harassment. Carlson, who successfully sued Fox after she was sexually harassed at work, has even spoken out against the dangers of SB 43 and SB 45. The Missouri Legislature has yet to get the memo from Fox News that workplace harassment is bad for business.

SB 45 opens the doors for serial abusers at Missouri workplaces. It protects serial abusers by locking them into closed arbitration agreements and keeping the public in the dark about workplace abuse. Companies will deal with claims of sexual harassment and abuse in secret using corporate arbitration courts where they write the rules. SB 45 silences women and encourages an environment for serial abuse.  In arbitration court, victims are usually under a gag order and not allowed to share their story—which can keep serial harassers free to abuse someone else.

Every American has a constitutional right to justice and a fair court. And every Missourian should be protected against discrimination and harassment at work. Sign the ACLU’s petition to take action against SB 43 and SB 45.

This post originally appeared on the ACLU blog. Republished with permission.


Sara Baker is the legislative and policy director at the ACLU of Missouri.