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Kansas City Missouri Employment Law Blog

Are white people protected under racial discrimination laws?

Racial discrimination and related issues are something no employer wants to occur in their Missouri workplace yet issues arise all the time. Whether it is blatant or subtler, discrimination based on race is hurtful and uncalled for. While employers may focus on protecting those employees that are part of a minority race, white employees may be left without protecting. If you are white, you may think you do not have any protection under discrimination laws.

This is actually a misconception. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, everyone is protected under discrimination laws. This includes any person of any race, even if you are white. The only requirements under racial discrimination laws is that you are being mistreated or unfairly treated simply because of your race.

Can sexual harassment occur via social media?

In this increasingly digitized world employers must take extra steps to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. This includes tamping down on harassment that takes place over social media, which is becoming more and more common among workers. HR.BLR.com offers the following advice in this case, which can help both employers as well as employees cut back on instances of harassment in the workplace.

Different Types of Online Harassment

When do I get overtime pay?

As a Missouri worker, your overtime pay is important to you, and you likely want to earn as much of it as possible. But you may be unclear as to when overtime kicks in and how much it amounts to. As FindLaw explains, under Title 18 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, your employer must pay you overtime any time you work more than 40 hours in a given week, not necessarily any time you work more than eight hours in a given day.

Be aware that the word “week” applies to the seven-day period in which you normally work. For instance, if you normally work Monday through Friday with Saturday and Sunday off, your week runs from Monday through Sunday. On the other hand, if you normally work Wednesday through Sunday with Monday and Tuesday off, your week runs from Wednesday through Tuesday.

FIFA World Cup highlights sexual harassment in sports journalism

According to the Women's Media Center, founded by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan in 2005, the number of women in sports journalism fell from 17.2 percent to 9.8 percent between 2012 and 2014. This male dominated field has been very challenging for women to gain entry, putting pressure on the women afforded the title to establish a strong female presence. Their commitment to great journalism in a field denied to so many women before them is unmatched.

What we saw at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia this year is what happens when female sports journalists start shutting down the sexism they’ve had to endure for decades.

Is pregnancy discrimination still a problem?

Having children is a dream shared by couples throughout Missouri. They may spend months and years trying to get pregnant and when they succeed, it is joyous news to share with friends and family. As the news makes its way around the office, a pregnant woman may also have to deal with some not-so-happy reactions. As the baby grows and the mom-to-be starts to show, she may find herself suddenly on the sidelines or worse, unemployed.

After reviewing thousands of pages of court and public records and interviewing several dozen women and their attorneys, as well as government representatives, the New York Times reports on a pattern it has found. Pregnant women at companies big and small may be seen as less committed than other employees and they may experience instances of being passed over for important assignments, bonuses, raises in salaries and promotions. If they don’t like this treatment and make a complaint, they risk being fired.

When sexual harassment is ignored or denied

For sexual harassment victims, there may be many challenges to work through. As if being subjected to sexual harassment is not tough enough, some victims face additional problems. For example, sexual harassment in the workplace may be completely ignored by managers and co-workers, resulting in a particular individual being subjected to sexual harassment relentlessly. In the event that a victim decides to stand up for themselves, their claims may be rejected and perpetrators and even witnesses may deny that any sexual harassment occurred. Our law office knows how upsetting this can be from a victim's standpoint, but it is crucial to remain committed to seeking justice.

Unfortunately, sexual harassment is denied for many reasons. Sometimes, people are afraid that they will lose their job or face financial ramifications if they speak out. In other cases, a person who has sexually harassed another at work may not even know that their actions were against the law and deny that any laws were broken. There are many different factors to take into consideration with sexual harassment cases but victims deserve a voice and should be fully aware of their rights. Moreover, each sexual harassment case is unique and some may have certain details that can have a major impact on the outcome.

Are you guaranteed work breaks in Missouri?

State laws dictate when employees get breaks and how long those breaks can be. Under these laws, employers need to provide a minimum amount of rest time, potentially including short paid breaks or paid lunch hours. In Missouri, however, that isn't necessarily the case for workers like you.

The Department of Labor shows the laws for lunches and breaks in the state of Missouri. In this state, there actually aren't any laws in place which protect a worker's rights to have a break. This goes for any kind of break, including lunches. Related to that, age doesn't impact whether or not you may get a working break. Even youth workers aren't guaranteed one.

Retaliation in workplace sexual harassment cases is illegal

Fear of retaliation remains a big reason why many sexual harassment victims do not come forward with their complaints to supervisors, managers and human resources departments. They fear that they will be fired. They fear punishment such as being given less-than-desirable work shifts, being assigned fewer work hours, or even demotion. They fear being ostracized.

Such retaliation is simply a despicable way for revenge. It is also illegal. The laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission clearly state that it’s illegal to harass, fire and demote an employee who has filed a complaint based on sexual harassment or discrimination.

How can you tell if your work environment is hostile?

Each day when you go to work, you have the right to perform your job responsibilities in a safe and controlled work environment. Depending on the industry that you are a part of in Missouri, you may face unique risks that are related to your line of work. However, you should never be fearful of the actions of others or have to deal with repetitive harassment while at work. When you understand what a hostile work environment is, you can be aware of behaviors that you should report immediately to protect yourself and your career. 

According to the Washington Business Magazine, hostility in the workplace goes beyond casual joking. If you have been the recipient of verbiage or actions that are threatening, belittling, offensive, abusive or intimidating, you are working in an environment that is hostile and unsafe. When investigators get involved in your case, some of the things they will assess include the following:

  • Are you a member of a protected class because of your race, disability, gender or social status? Was the abuse related to your personal background?
  • Was the attention you are receiving unwanted and unsolicited by your actions?
  • Did the harassment pose an immediate threat to your safety? Did the harrassment put you at risk of losing your job or did it prevent you from performing your job duties effectively?

Frequently Asked Questions About Racial Discrimination

As a Kansas City employer, being able to identify potential issues in your workplace is key to preventing serious consequences from occurring. This is especially true when it comes to racial discrimination. Because instances of discrimination are can sometimes be subtle, many employers remain unaware of a problem until it is too late. Fortunately, WorkplaceFairness.org clears up the confusion by answering the following frequently asked questions.

What is racial discrimination?

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