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Kansas City Missouri Employment Law Blog

How should I deal with sexual harassment at work?

Unwanted advances and overtly sexual language in the office can be tough to deal with. In some cases, unwanted romantic gestures, lewd comments, or even jokes are sexual harassment, and as a result these actions carry some serious penalties. WorkplaceFairness.org explains what you can do if you’re experiencing what you believe is sexual harassment at your place of work.

While you may want to ignore unwanted advances because of the discomfort they cause, it’s important the harasser knows they are unwelcome. Even innocently joking and flirting could be construed as consenting behavior, so make sure you address each separate incident with a firm no. In clear language demand that the harasser stop. If this doesn’t stop the harassment, you’ll need to move on to the next step.

I am about to become a dad. Can I take FMLA leave?

Becoming a dad, either through the birth or adoption of a new child, is a monumental life event. Adding a new member to the family is a big deal, whether you are a mother or father.

It’s natural to want time off from work to dedicate your energy to this major change and to bond with your child. Maybe the women in your office have used the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for a child-related absence, but do you have the same rights?

Establishing a work environment free of gender discrimination

When people are working together in a confined environment and each of them has different beliefs and opinions, it can be difficult at times for them to get along. While many employers in Missouri go to extensive lengths to help their workers feel comfortable around each other by implementing protocols for desirable and fair behavior, there are times when discrimination can still surface. 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, situations where a person is treated differently, given less opportunity or is harassed because of their sex, is gender discrimination. The discrimination can take place between same sexes and victims could be both male and female. The perpetrators could be a group of people or a single person. Employers who understand precisely what constitutes gender discrimination can better avoid it when they educate and train their workers on what is and is not okay, as well as the importance of being respectful to the differences of others. 

What are some race discrimination issues large companies face?

It is nice to think that race discrimination is a thing of the past, but the reality is it still exists. Some of the nation's biggest companies have had recent issues with discrimination against employees of color. Whether you own a business in Missouri or are just a worker, knowing the race discrimination issues that exist can help you to avoid and recognize when such issues occur.

According to ThoughtCo., one race discrimination issue is treating workers of color different than white workers. This might include paying them lower wages, denying them promotions or not giving them the option of good job assignments. It could also include unfair hiring and firing practices, which creates a work environment with little diversification.

Realizing the value of taking a break at work

While employers in Missouri are required by law to provide their employees with opportunities to take a break at work, some employers do not enforce this requirement. Others, leave it up to the discretion of their employees whether or not breaks are taken. In some instances, workers opt to continue working instead of clocking out, so they can continue receiving payment. What many people may not realize is just how valuable taking a brief break from their responsibilities may be. 

According to inc.com, there are several beneficial things that employees can be doing with the time they are offered during breaks. For example, they may consider forming relationships with their coworkers and getting to know them through conversation. They may decide to go for a brief walk or climb some stairs to burn calories and release endorphins to motivate themselves upcoming meetings. Some people may choose to use this time to pursue a hobby or reconnect with a spouse or child in a timely meeting for lunch or a treat. 

How should I behave at my office holiday party?

Many workers in Missouri will be attending holiday parties throughout this month. While spending quality time with co-workers can be a great way to strengthen bonds and access opportunities, it can also land you in hot water if you're not careful. That’s why The Muse offers the following tips, which can help you navigate your work’s holiday party without incident.

Don’t drink too much

Why should you take breaks at work?

When you were hired for your job in Missouri, chances are your employer informed you of how often you would be allowed to take breaks. While it may be tempting at times to continue and work throughout designated break periods, this time is imperative to your safety, wellbeing and productivity at your job. If your employer does not provide adequate breaks, you may consider voicing your concerns because breaks are a necessary part of being a productive worker. 

By law, it is required that you take breaks while you are at work. The amount of time you are given may vary depending on whether or not you work full-time and how many other people there are within your shift that needs a break. 

Know your rights as a pregnant worker

Finding out you are pregnant can be the beginning of an exciting adventure, but for many working women it can also be the beginning of pregnancy discrimination. Two major United States companies have recently been accused of pregnancy discrimination, which suggests this form of discrimination is still occurring around the country despite it being illegal.

On Sept. 21, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Walmart Inc. for forcing pregnant workers to go on unpaid leave and denying the requests of pregnant workers to take on easier tasks. On Nov 12, arbitration began for a similar lawsuit, in which The Wonderful Company, which sells Fiji Water, Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice and other food products, was accused of wrongful termination and other forms of pregnancy discrimination.

Are there exemptions to the FLSA?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulates things like overtime pay and the minimum wage, among many other workplace matters. While a wide range of workers is covered by the FLSA there are also quite a few exemptions. The U.S. Department of Labor offers insight into these exemptions so both workers and employers remain fully apprised to their rights.

Exemptions for salespeople

Changes to long-standing policy in favor of employees

When an employee is the victim of harassment either by a coworker or superior, settling the case is often a complicated process of working through private arbitration to protect the identity of the victim while giving the company the best chance at maintaining its reputation. For many victims in Missouri, these efforts to provide both parties with protection may feel more like an effort to protect their employer without a second thought for the harassment they have endured. 

However, with a drastic change to a long-standing policy in a recent discussion of sexual harassment in the workplace, it was determined that employees of some big employers such as Facebook, Google, Airbnb and eBay are now legally able to sue their employers if they have been the victim of sexual harassment. Google was the first company to rescind its previously mandatory requirement that private arbitration is used in cases where an employee was harassed. Facebook announced its decision to do the same thing just a day later with eBay and Airbnb following suit shortly after that. 

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