Missouri Employment Law Blog

Does my genetic history put my job at risk?

Our understanding of what produces diseases or chronic disorders continues to breach new barriers, but with that increasing knowledge comes the expanding ability to look at a person’s genetic history and determine that the person may stand a greater chance of developing a form of cancer or other disease. Anyone who works in a Missouri workplace should know that their job should never be at risk because of their genetic history.

Even if your genetic history does put you at greater potential risk of developing, for example, a form of cancer or heart disease, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) makes it clear that such information is not relevant to your current ability to do work at your job. If you do not have the disorder or disease you are considered at risk for, you should not be treated any differently than your colleagues. You may be able to work normally for five, ten, or twenty more years. In fact, you may never contract the disease you are at risk for at all.

Discrimination: Race may still play a role in your workplace

Racism is a hot topic in the United States, but is it really as prominent as it seems? Yes, in many ways, it is. Racial and ethnic discrimination can come in many forms, some of which may not be as obvious as others. No matter how it happens, racial discrimination is not legal and should not take place in your workplace.

If you fear you're the victim of discrimination, it's important to know how to identify it. Unless your employer admits to racism, it may be hard to detect. However, if you are persistent in collecting evidence, you may be able to prove that racism plays a role in your workplace.

How do I prove workplace discrimination?

Discrimination is against the law in Missouri, but that does not mean that workplace discrimination does not happen. Many times, people get away with it because the victim does not think he or she can prove it happened. If you find yourself in a situation where you have suffered discrimination, then it is important to make sure you have the evidence you need to prove your claim. If it comes down to just your word against somebody else's word, then the chances are good you will lose your case.

Career Trend recommends finding direct evidence to prove discrimination because this is evidence that is difficult to deny and solidly shows it happened. Direct evidence includes written evidence or witnesses. It could be a policy that the employer enacted or someone who overheard you being discriminated against. 

What is the law regarding breaks and personal time off?

A long day at work can be made even longer when your employer doesn't allow you to take any breaks. You may wonder if this is legal. After all, aren't employers required to give you at least a lunch break? The answer, according to the Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, is no, the state does not have any laws saying employers must give employees breaks of any kind. 

There is one exception, which is very specific. Within the entertainment industry, workers under the age of 16 must be given a break after working two hours. This break needs to be at least 15 minutes in length. After 5 1/2 hours of work, a lunch break must be given. It is important to note this is only for this industry. The state has no rules for breaks for workers until 16 in any other job.

Could you get fired for your social media posts?

Social media is quite popular. It seems everyone has at least one account on one platform. If you are like most people, you probably use your social media to share things about your life and express opinions. However, you must be aware that whatever you put on these platforms can be seen by pretty much anyone and could lead to some trouble for you, especially when it comes to work. According to CNBC, your employer could fire you for using https://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/05/how-using-social-media-can-get-you-fired.htmlsocial media.

Employers may fire you for using it on company time or due to something you post. It is rather easy to see why an employer may fire you for using social media during work hours. It affects your productivity and takes your attention away from the work tasks you are being paid to perform. 

Females in the workplace: Dealing with unfair work practices

As a female in a workplace, you probably are aware that it's still a common occurrence to have men receive higher salaries and advancements in their careers simply because of their gender. The reality is that this is a form of discrimination that you shouldn't have to accept.

Gender discrimination is against the law. According to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, employers may not subject their workers to lower wages because of a preference for one gender over the other. To cite the law in court, you'll need to show that you were paid less while doing the same job with the same experience and requirements as another person of the opposite sex receiving higher compensation.

What is prevailing wage?

If you work in the construction industry, you may have heard the term prevailing wage. This is a specific type of wage that differs from the standard minimum wage or other wage categories. It is only for specific types of work within the construction industry. According to the Missouri Department of Labor, a prevailing wage is the lowest wage you can be paid for working on public works projects. This includes the construction of government buildings, bridges and roads.

The wage is determined each year and differs based on the county in which the work is being done and the project being completed. The DOL determines the wage through information provided from public agencies, contractors, labor organizations and through a survey called the Contractor's Wage Survey. It may change each year based on the information gathered. Information is gathered until the end of January each year.

Barriers to reporting sexual harassment in the workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, not just in Missouri, but across the United States. Even so, Journalist's Resource reports that about 40 percent of women reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that on the job, they suffer from behaviors with a sexual component, including threats and bribes. With federal laws and oversight and even programs within the companies themselves in place to prevent these activities, why are women so reluctant to come forward?

According to The New York Times, many factors create the barriers that prevent women from reporting sexual harassment. Research indicates that retaliation is likely for victims who report harassment. Their claims are often dismissed as false, or they are blamed for the perpetrator's actions. The more masculine a company's culture, the more likely women are to experience harassment, and the less likely they are to be able to report it without retaliation. 

Can employers dictate hairstyles of employees?

Dress codes are nothing new in the workplace. Many employers want to create a situation where employees and customers are visibly different or an employer may want to present a certain image through the way employees dress. However, discrimination issues may come up when employers get a little too strict with dress codes where they expand into areas of employee's personal appearances. 

One such area is when it comes to hairstyles. Can your employer tell you how to wear your hair? The answer is not as clearcut as it may seem. According to CBS News, some situations are discrimination if the requirement or demand from an employer violates a person's civil rights or is based solely on racial lines. For example, telling a black woman she cannot wear her hair in a natural state may be discrimination. However, there are always exceptions.

Can an independent contractor be fired?

Since independent contractors are not the same as employees, some Missouri contractors may wonder if the employer they work for possesses the power to fire them as they could an employee in an at-will scenario. Can an employer simply terminate an independent contractor on a whim? The truth is a little more complicated, as independent contractors do enjoy some level of protection from wrongful termination.

Chron.com lays out the nature of an independent contractor’s relationship with an employer. Technically speaking, an indie contractor does not have an employer. The relationship is more akin to two entities entering into a business relationship, with the relationship spelled out in a work contract. The contractor sets forth terms for being contracted, and the other party doing the hiring describes the kind of work expected from the contractor. So while labor laws may not protect a contractor as they would a standard employee, a contractor may have grounds to sue the other party over a breach of contract.

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