Before Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed Senate Bill 43 solving the problem, almost everyone agreed there was a problem to be solved. Generally speaking, the media cared less about private employers being stung repeatedly by bogus discrimination lawsuits than by public employers. The tax dollars being spent on lawyers and lawsuits were not being spent on the media’s pet causes.
Forget Senate Bill 43, the NAACP would have been justified in putting out a literal travel advisory against Missouri because the state under Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon was spending multiple millions in court that could have been much more profitably spent on the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.
As the Kansas City Star reported in December 2016, more than 100 discrimination lawsuits had been filed against Nixon’s executive branch agencies since 2011. Since 2014, the state had paid more than $14 million in damages in discrimination and harassment lawsuits alone. This figure does not include dollars awarded but not yet paid in those cases still under appeal. These were Democrats being sued by the way. This is the party that allegedly protects women and minorities from sexist and racist Republicans.
To be fair, the problem wasn’t Nixon’s people. The problem was the law. “It’s a very high cost of doing business in Missouri,” attorney Joe Hatley told KSHB-TV. “It’s so easy for someone to make a stray comment here or there and that be turned into some evidence of bias. With a low Missouri standard, you can get a jury to tie those together.”
As Hatley knew from working with area school districts, there had been a lot of tying together. The research that KSHB did in February 2017 showed 80 discrimination lawsuits against metro KC schools on the Missouri side in the previous 10 years, but only three on the Kansas side.
The City of Kansas City, Missouri, has been just as vulnerable. “One of the biggest expenses we seem to have, year in and year out, (is) lawsuits for discrimination, retaliation, and it just seems to me that we could do a better job on the front end,” City Councilman and attorney Ed Ford told the Insurance Journal in 2014. “It’s just costing us too much money.”
The City was reeling at the time from the reorganization of the prosecutor’s office. When the city moved to replace part-time prosectors with full-time ones, eight of those replaced filed lawsuits for age, race and/or gender discrimination although their age, race and/or gender clearly had nothing to do with their termination. At the time, the city had already settled with four of them in excess of $1 million and had four more left to settle.
Mayor Sly James was running the city at the time. His attorney son Malik James is now calling Gov. Greitens “a privileged white man” for signing Senate Bill 43, a bill which will reduce the charges of racism and sexism leveled against his father’s administration.
Apparently, when contingency fees are at stake, no good deed does go unpunished.