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Bill would raise burden of proof in comp retaliation claims

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The Missouri Legislature passed a bill Monday that would raise an employee’s burden of proof for workers compensation retaliation claims.

Senate Bill 66, sponsored by Senator Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, would modify the state’s workers comp law to make it more difficult for injured employees to sue employers for retaliation. The bill would require employees who have been terminated to prove their workers comp claim was the motivating factor rather than a contributing factor in their termination from the company.

The bill is a response to the Missouri Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Templemire vs. W&M Welding Inc. In that case, an employee whose foot was crushed in a work-related incident claimed he was later fired for filing a comp claim. The high court overturned a circuit court ruling that sided with the employer, saying employees must demonstrate that their workers comp claim was a contributing factor to prove retaliation in discrimination or termination cases.

S.B. 66 also states that if an employee voluntarily leaves his or her job at a time when an employer has available work that accommodates medical restrictions from the claim injury, the employee will not receive temporary total disability or temporary partial disability benefits. In addition, the bill states that a positive test result for a non-prescribed drug creates a rebuttable presumption that the drug was in the employee’s system at the time of the accident or injury, which could result in a reduction in benefits.

If signed into law by Governor Eric Greitens, S.B. 66 will become effective Aug. 28.