Missouri Employment Law Blog

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. 

Muslim women who cover their heads often face discrimination

It's a sad truth that far too many people experience serious discrimination for things that they have no control over. People face discrimination because of the color of their skin, nation of origin, gender, age or even medical conditions. Employers should not consider things like race, gender or religion into the hiring, promotion or termination process, but some still do.

One group that faces serious discrimination is Muslim women, particularly those who wear a headcovering. Similarly, Sikh men may face discrimination for wearing a headcovering mandated by their faith. Because these items display religious affiliation, they can result in discrimination, especially during the hiring process.

What are some common questions about minimum wage?

As a worker in Missouri, you have the right to be paid a minimum wage by most employers under the law. However, there are exceptions and variations to the minimum wage laws based on your employer and the type of work you do. It can be confusing. It may help to learn a little more about the law through looking at common questions.

According to the Department of Labor, one thing workers are concerned about is what wage they should be getting paid. All employers except small service or retail business that gross under $500,000 a year must pay you the state minimum wage. This amount may change each year, but in 2017, it is $7.70. However, there is another exception. If you are an employee who receives tips, you may be paid less than minimum wage as long as your hourly pay and tips add up to the minimum pay rate per hour. 

What are some common ways employers violate employee rights?

Many workers in Missouri assume their employers have their best interests in mind. They believe the policies and rules that are in place for their work environments are designed to protect them from abuse and mistreatment. Here at the law office of Hollingshead & Dudley, we know how common it is for employers to violate federal laws and engage in practices that violate their workers’ rights. Employees should learn about the rights and protections the federal law provides them so they can keep their jobs from infringing upon them. 

Employers do not always realize they are not following the law when it comes to their employees. Some workplace practices seem so normal that workers do not think to question them. According to U.S. News & World Report, the most common employee rights violation issues concern employee classification, overtime pay and employee social media activity restrictions. 

Huge award for wrongful termination claim against school district

Many people in Missouri are aware that their employers can fire them for any reason, as long as it does not violate their rights. However, what they might not know is what constitutes a violation of their rights and end up losing their jobs unlawfully. Employers must not engage in predatory practices and behaviors to encourage employees to work in toxic work environments, nor to quit their jobs. When they do, former workers can seek compensation. 

A $340,000 judgment was awarded to a former Independence School District employee for a wrongful termination that occurred in 2015. The woman was employed as a cafeteria cook at William Chrisman High School, where her daughter was also a student. The school district is appealing the verdict and asserts that her firing was lawful. 

Why is proving employment discrimination difficult?

There are many different types of discrimination that you could be exposed to in a working environment in Missouri. While discrimination is prohibited by law, it still happens all the time. This is not because people are unaware that it is illegal or that people are not reporting it. One of the biggest problems with discrimination is that it is difficult to prove, so people often get away with doing it.

Workplace Fairness notes there are many types of evidence that can be used to prove discrimination. However, some evidence may be stronger and more likely to help you win a discrimination case. For example, the strongest type of evidence is direct evidence. This is solid proof that someone discriminated against you. It basically proves beyond a doubt that it occurred. Unfortunately, direct evidence is not often available.

Signs you might be at risk of workplace discrimination

Discrimination in the workplace is a very serious matter. If you fall into a protected class that, you deserve to receive equal treatment and accommodation in the workplace. For example, if your age, gender or race qualifies you as a protected class, then you expect your work environment to be safe and free from discriminatory behavior.

Unfortunately, identifying workplace discrimination can sometimes be very difficult. The following signs might be red flags that discrimination is occurring at your St. Louis job.

How to know when flirtatious workplace behavior crosses the line?

Many employers in Missouri have policies in place to prevent workplace behavior. It is still an activity that commonly happens on the job every day. It is not unusual for workers to find themselves on the receiving end of compliments and other friendly, flirtatious behavior. While some individuals do not mind receiving and exchanging this type of treatment from their co-workers, there are some who question if it is acceptable. 

It is not always easy to tell when someone is crossing the line in their advances and being overly friendly. Some people do not enjoy the sexual or romantic attention they receive from their co-workers and might feel threated by it. Individuals who are not sure if they are being sexually harassed should consider the following information. 

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