Missouri Employment Law Blog

What is the law providing discrimination protection in Missouri?

While there are federal laws in place to help prevent discrimination in Missouri workplaces, the state also has laws on its own to help keep workers from suffering from discrimination. Discrimination is when you are treated in a different way due to some aspect of who you are, such as your race or religion. It is not okay for an employer to treat you in a way that is different from how he or she treats other employees.

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations explains the state's discrimination law is called the Missouri Human Rights Act. It covers public accommodations and housing in addition to workplaces. This act provides the standard protections against discrimination due to age, race, sex, national origin, religion, color, ancestry and disability. As with the federal protections, you are also protected from discrimination for associating with someone in a protected class. For example, if you are a woman who marries a Jewish man, your employer cannot discriminate against you just because your husband is Jewish. You are also protected against retaliation if you report violations of the Act.

What makes a noncompete clause fair?

If you are applying for a job, read any employment contract a prospective employer hands you very carefully, as some companies require their employees to agree to a noncompete clause in their contracts. Noncompete agreements place limits on your employment after you leave your current Missouri employer, so you want to feel sure that the noncompete clause is fair and does not harm your future career prospects.

According to the Monster website, noncompete agreements are becoming more common thanks to the increasing technological orientation of many jobs. Employers wish to continue to profit off their existing intellectual and technological property and do not want people that once worked for them to form competition in the same market. Ultimately, if you feel a noncompete clause would hurt you, you can simply seek work elsewhere. However, if you are not opposed to a noncompete agreement but want it to be fair, check the agreement for a few key factors.

Missouri minors must have breaks on a movie set

Working in the filmmaking industry can be an exciting job, especially for young people who take on acting roles. However, even though time on movie sets is regularly scheduled, movie making is often unpredictable. Sometimes shooting time may go over scheduled limits, forcing actors to wait around on set to film scenes. This is why the state of Missouri regulates how long minors can work in the entertainment industry per day so that they will not be overworked.

The Missouri Department of Labor makes it clear that the entertainment industry must provide meal breaks and periods of rest to minors employed in the film business. A young actor or any young person laboring on a movie set cannot go more than five and a half hours without stopping to eat a meal. Young workers also cannot be subjected to prolonged periods of work. Those in charge of a movie set must provide a period of fifteen minutes of rest following two hours of constant labor.

Was I treated fairly when I was fired?

Losing a job in Missouri can be a frustrating, even humiliating experience, particularly if you believe you have done nothing to warrant the termination. You may even feel that you are a victim of wrongful termination. If you believe your firing was unjust, one way to discover if the company terminated you illegally is to see if they treated you fairly according to the procedures of the company.

Since Missouri operates under the at-will employment doctrine, it is possible for a Missouri workplace to terminate an employee for any reason that does not violate that worker’s civil rights. However, Chron.com points out that employers can hire people on the basis of a written contract, which sets aside at-will employment and conditions a worker's employment on specific terms. If you have not violated those terms, your termination is not valid.

Employer deductions: Not always legal in Missouri

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was set up to establish minimum wages, record-keeping requirements, youth employment standards and overtime pay. The federal minimum wage has been set at $7.25 since July 24, 2009. Overtime is required to be at least one and one-half times the employee's normal rate of pay following 40 hours of work in one week.

Missouri's state-required minimum wage is $7.85 as of 2018. That means that anyone working in the state for an employer who is not exempt should receive at least $7.85 per hour despite the federal requirement being only $7.25.

Sexual harassment affects men, too

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a very real problem plaguing many people across Missouri and the nation, and while working women are frequent victims of such behavior, men are not exempt from it, either. In fact, many men are subject to sexual harassment on the job, but they may be more hesitant to draw attention to it, with some men reporting that they are hesitant to call attention to such discrimination because they fear doing so would make them appear effeminate. At Hollingshead & Dudley, we recognize that men, too, often experience sexual harassment at work, and we have helped many victims who are both male and female pursue appropriate recourse in its aftermath.

Per Psychology Today, about a third of all American working men report experiencing sexual harassment while at work within the past year, contradicting the notion that women, primarily, are victims of such treatment. Additionally, men who are also sexual minorities are more frequently victims of such behavior than straight men.

Unions repeal 'right-to-work' state decision

While there are 27 states in the country that are ‘right-to-work’ states, Missouri is not one of them. At least not yet. Lawmakers attempted to make Missouri the 28 state to follow this method of employment by writing and approving a ‘right-to-work’ law; however, the law was repealed by labor unions who are opposed to the idea of interfering with their right to enforce contracts with employees.

Some people may argue that labor unions benefit Missouri workers in several ways. The unions negotiate a higher wage for entry-level employees and enable them to have health care coverage when they may otherwise be ineligible for these benefits. In return, union workers pay fees and dues to the labor unions. Once the ‘right-to-work’ state law is enacted, labor unions would not be able to receive dues from union employees. This means that a union worker who has negotiated a wage through the union and pays dues may get the same pay as a non-union worker who is working at the same job.

When does sexual innuendo become harassment?

You are probably aware that prosecutors working for the State of Missouri often pursue cases involving sexual or non-sexual harassment and assault. However, cases within the workplace often have a different procedure. This is because there are laws governing professional life that do not apply to day-to-day living outside of work. Examples of these laws and regulations include equal opportunity, workers' compensation laws and OSHA guidelines. 

In fact, your first priority in any harassment case you might consider would probably be determining what exactly happened, according to the evidence. This analysis would help direct you towards your preferred course of action. For example, you might want to file a police report if you believe there was a crime. The Missouri Revisor of Statutes lists two harassment crimes: harassment in the first and second degree. 

The difference between contractors and employees

Some Missouri businesses have a win-win relationship with their independent contractors. Others seek to exert the same control over a freelancer as they would a standard employee, essentially locking the individual into exclusive employment for all economic and practical purposes. Unfortunately, the difference is hard to spot, as many companies tout the supposed independence their employees face.

As the details of a case are uncovered, the line between ethical behavior and exploitation becomes more defined. During the process, it often becomes apparent just how much a company could benefit from classifying workers as freelancers — savings that often comes at the expense of workers. 

Understanding your rights step by step

It is one thing to have an unpleasant workplace. It is another thing entirely to have your rights violated. At the Missouri offices of Hollingshead & Dudley Trial Lawyers, we know that the people who have come in through our door have experienced enough injustice to motivate them to make the tough decision of seeking legal counsel. This is why we attempt to offer not only an expert legal analysis but also a compassionate treatment of the situation.

You have a legal right to a workplace that is free of certain stressors:

  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Retaliation
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