Koster Names Judge To Head New Division On Worker, Disability And Civil Rights

Jefferson City, MO (CompNewsNetwork) - Attorney General Chris Koster has appointed St. Louis Senior Judge Barbara Crancer to head a newly created division of his office charged with enforcing civil rights, along with the rights of workers and the disabled. Crancer will serve as Chief Counsel of the Division of Civil, Disability and Workers' Rights.

Koster pledged in his campaign for Attorney General to create such a division within his first six months in office. The division's duties will fall into three categories:

    * Civil rights: The division will represent the Missouri Human Rights Commission and enforce the Missouri Human Rights Act; take action in discrimination cases; and compile the Attorney General's annual vehicle stops report (racial profiling report).

    * Disability rights: the division will enforce state interests regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Missouri Human Rights Act and the federal Fair Housing Act; enforce the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which seeks to ensure the disabled have access to polling places; and use the Attorney General's seat on the Missouri Housing Development Commission to advocate for accessible housing throughout Missouri. Koster says nearly one million Missourians are recognized as having some type of physical disability, making this the state's largest minority population.

    * Workers' rights: the division will enforce Missouri's prevailing wage law, providing assistance upon request to local prosecuting attorneys, as well as Missouri's new unauthorized alien workers law, passed by the General Assembly in 2008. The law gives the Attorney General authority to investigate and pursue legal action against employers who knowingly employ workers not authorized to work in the United States.

Until now, many of these duties have been handled by attorneys in other divisions of the Attorney General's Office, including the divisions of Public Safety, Consumer Protection, Litigation and Governmental Affairs. The emphasis on pursuit of matters involving undocumented and misclassified workers stems from the 2008 illegal immigration law.

"One of government's foremost jobs is to protect the basic rights of Missourians to work, vote, access buildings and do any number of things most of us take for granted," Koster said. "For the first time, the Attorney General's Office will have a separate legal enforcement division set up to focus solely on these fundamental rights, and I am honored to have Judge Crancer pioneer this effort."

"After nearly 20 years in public service, I have come to appreciate the important role our government and our legal system play in making sure Missourians' rights are protected," Crancer said. "I am humbled to be appointed to this position by Attorney General Koster, and I look forward to working with the many talented attorneys, investigators and other experts in the Attorney General's Office to make a difference for Missourians."

Crancer, the division's Chief Counsel, has served as a judge in Missouri's 21st Judicial Circuit, located in St. Louis County, since 1992. She received her bachelor's degree from Albion College in Albion, Mi., and her law license from Washington University in St. Louis. 

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