Missouri Employment Law Blog

Can you be fired for reporting unsafe work conditions?

If you are working for an employer in Missouri that has safety issues, you have the right to report this to authorities. Anything that puts your safety and the safety of other workers at risk is something that should be handled as soon as possible. The last thing you want is an injury that stops you from working. However, you may be wary of reporting your employer. You may fear saying something could put your job at risk, but you can rest easy. You cannot be fired for reporting a safety issue. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration explains you are protected from employer retaliation when you report unsafe working conditions. Retaliation includes any action that your employer might take to punish you for what you did, such as demoting you or reducing your hours. 

The facts on denied breaks in the workplace

With the everyday need for breaks from our work routine to eat a meal or use the bathroom, we might think Missouri employees are guaranteed by law the right to have meal and bathroom breaks in the workplace. However, the truth is Missouri employers do have leeway in curbing workplace breaks, but the extent to which is somewhat complicated.

According to the Missouri Department of Labor, Missouri state law does not require employers to give their workers a break from their work for any reason. These can include bathroom breaks, rest periods, or even a lunch hour. In fact, state law does not call for employers to give such breaks to young workers, which are defined as workers younger than sixteen years of age. The law leaves these issues up to the employer, who can work them out with their workers directly or broadly through a contract or the company’s work policy.

What is the difference between an employee and IC?

If you hire workers for your business in Missouri, you may be tempted to call them independent contractors. Doing so means you do not have to pay employment taxes on them, so it can save you a bit of money. However, you have to be very careful about classifying a worker as an IC over an employee. There are strict rules that define each type of worker.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, if you classify workers incorrectly as independent contractors when they are actually employees, you could face stiff penalties and fines. The IRS recommends looking at three specific areas when deciding worker classification. 

The use of sexual innuendos in the workplace

Many employers in Missouri and across the country have zero-tolerance sexual harassment policies in place. However, those rules are not always enough to get workers to abide by them. Some individuals resort to using sexual innuendos to liven up the atmosphere at work, not realizing that their actions are unlawful. 

According to FindLaw, sexual innuendos, also known as sexual bantering are a form of sexual harassment. The sexual and inappropriate remarks are not made directly, but in a suggestive manner that can cause the person receiving them to feel uncomfortable, threatened and upset and other workers to become offended. 

Does my state have parental leave laws?

As a worker in Missouri, you may wonder about your rights for time off work. This is especially true if your wife is about to have a baby or you are adopting a new child into your family. While maternity leave is quite common in companies, paternity leave is not something that is as widespread. Some states have adopted paternity leave laws, but Missouri is not one of them.

However, you do not have to abandon all hope of having some time off to bond with your new addition. According to The National Conference of State Legislatures, you have some additional options you can use to take paternity time off.

How to know if it really is sexual harassment

The movement to stop sexual harassment is gaining traction like never before. To help with this process, recent news events have brought the pervasive problem of workplace sexual harassment into the limelight. Nevertheless, many Missouri workers continue to face sexual harassment at their jobs.

One of the biggest problems related to sexual harassment is the fact that victims often dismiss the behavior unconsciously. Victims often don't want to go through the awkward process of calling out their harasser. They may also be fearful of repercussions. As a result, they may simply hope that the harasser stops and leaves them alone, but in many cases, this never happens.

Study highlights disparities for women in STEM careers

Workplace discrimination is alive and well in Missouri and across the country. Women who work in certain careers are more likely to experience inequalities in pay and receive discriminatory behaviors from their coworkers. According to a Pew Research Center study, at least 50 percent of women who work in STEM jobs have experienced gender-related discrimination, 36 percent of females have also been exposed to sexual harassment. 

Women are already underrepresented in the STEM field. It has historically employed more men than females. Despite rapid growth throughout the years, the number of women entering the field remains low. Women have an elevated risk of receiving unlawful treatment in work sectors that have a high volume of male workers. 

The difference between sexual and gender discrimination

Sexual harassment and discrimination issues in Missouri workplaces must be managed carefully. It is up to everyone to ensure these situations do not occur. However, in the changing social environment, there are even more cases of discrimination that everyone must watch out for and some are very similar in nature.

It may seem like sexual harassment or discrimination and gender discrimination are the same thing, but according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, they are not exactly the same. It is essential to understand this difference to avoid any discrimination issues in the workplace.

Understanding severance pay obligations

Many in Missouri might hear stories or see depictions in popular media of people losing their jobs and being offered severance pay. The concept of severance pay seems fair enough; after all, The Bureau of Labor Statistics officially defines it as payment to employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. When one believes that he or she has been wrongfully terminated, then he or she may rightly claim to be owed severance pay. Yet are there laws on the books requiring employers to provide it? 

Nothing in the federal government's Fair Labor Standards Act exists that obligates employers to offer severance pay. According to Missouri's Division of Labor Standards, there are no local laws requiring it, either. Therefore, an employer is not obligated to continue to pay an employee for a certain time period or offer any sort of benefit package as a condition of his or her dismissal. However, severance pay should not be confused with unpaid wages. An employer must pay an employee for any work that he or she was not already compensated for prior to his or her being fired. 

What is a hostile work environment?

Work is an unavoidable reality for many people in the Missouri area. They work to support themselves, their families and lifestyles. While many individuals have the education and credentials to work in careers of their choosing, other do not and are often left to choose work in places that may not be the best of environments for them. 

It is not uncommon for some people to experience behaviors from their bosses and coworkers that make them feel uncomfortable and weird. This often causes them to wonder if the unusual behaviors they are experiencing from others are normal and legally acceptable or creating a hostile work environment. According to BizFluent.com, the legal definition of a hostile work environment is when the persistent and intentional actions of a boss or coworker make it almost impossible for someone or several people to perform their jobs comfortably. 

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