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Kansas City Missouri Employment Law Blog

Disney fights class action certification in wage and hour case

The plaintiffs in employment class actions in Missouri and around the country are sometimes awarded damages that run into the tens of millions of dollars. This type of legal action occurs when several workers with identical claims against their employer elect to join together and file a single lawsuit. Class actions allow plaintiffs to share their legal expenses, and they also put more pressure on employers to settle. However, a judge must review the case and certify the class action before litigation can begin.

Judges will generally only grant such certification if the legal claim involved applies to all of the members of the class. Establishing this is sometimes difficult as employers often contest class action certifications vigorously. These are the arguments currently being made in California in a case involving a group of Walt Disney Company workers who accuse their longtime employer of violating the California Fair Pay Act. The case was originally filed by three Disney employees on April 3, but the number of plaintiffs has now grown to 10.

Workplace harassment a common problem for surgical residents

In Missouri and across the nation, workplace harassment can occur in any type of employment including medicine, For aspiring and in-training medical professionals, their career path can be made more difficult by the troublesome prevalence of workplace mistreatment. Recent research has shown how often this occurs.

A survey of more than 7,400 surgery residents from across the U.S. shows that various forms of workplace mistreatment were common. Researchers found that 32 percent stated they were subjected to sex discrimination, 30 percent were bullied or abused, more than 16 percent faced racial discrimination, and more than 10 percent were sexually harassed. This was a major contributing factor toward burnout. In addition, the survey showed that around 31 percent said they were subjected to this mistreatment a few times annually. 19 percent said they were confronted by it a few times per month.

Wage theft prohibited by FLSA

Missouri employees are entitled to compensation for all the work that they have performed. Employers, though, have incentives to deny their employees pay, especially when the employees have little in terms of recourse. One of the primary ways that an employer might violate workers' rights to fair, complete compensation is through wage theft. Examples of wage theft include not paying overtime, requiring employees to work off the clock, making illegal deductions, not paying employees, and paying employees less than minimum wage.

Wage theft by employers is prohibited by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Digital wage theft is also illegal, and is a relatively new way that employers can wrong their employees. Digital time tracking was designed to more accurately track the time that employees work, but it also makes it easier for employers and management to corrupt or alter the hours that employees are paid for. Digital time tracking technology leaves room for employers to steal wages from employees by rounding, time shaving, and making automatic deductions for breaks.

What to consider when filing a sexual harassment claim

Workers in Missouri may have recourse if they experience sexual harassment at work. Sexual harassment could include inappropriate comments made by a manager or inappropriate touching by anyone associated with the organization. While there is no time limit to report a claim to an employer, it is generally a good idea to do so as quickly as possible. This may prevent others within the company from questioning a victim's motives.

Quick action could also prevent a perpetrator from victimizing other people in an organization. Those who are planning on filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may need to do so within 180 days. However, victims might be able to make a claim up to 300 days after an incident takes place. The statute of limitations will depend on the law in the state where the harassment occurred.

Sex discrimination hurts women on the job

Women on the job in Missouri continue to face a range of obstacles to equality in the workplace. While the #MeToo campaign highlighted the scourge of sexual harassment in the workplace, this is only one of the issues that women face on the job. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing several cases with major implications for the legal understanding of sex discrimination in American workplaces. Several federal appeals courts, as well as the Department of Justice during the Obama administration, argued that sex discrimination includes within its ambit discrimination against LGBT workers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

However, the Trump administration's Justice Department and other courts have differed, arguing that sex discrimination is restricted to discrimination explicitly against workers for being male or female. Even traditional sex discrimination complaints, however, have faced serious obstacles. Many women who face employment discrimination never file a formal complaint, especially due to the fear of retaliation. Of those that do, only around 6% ever go to court. Even those cases that go to court may face an uphill battle, especially as Supreme Court decisions over the past 10 years have limited workers' rights to pursue discrimination complaints through a class-action lawsuit.

What can I do when witnessing sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is an unfortunately all too common occurrence in the workplace. As a result, co-workers often witness harassment as it happens, which leaves them in an awkward position. Of course, doing the right thing is crucial, but you might also have concerns about retaliation if you call attention to another person's inappropriate behavior. This is especially true when the person doing the harassing is a supervisor or some other authority figure. Marketwatch explains some of the steps you can take if you witness sexual harassment at your place of work. 

Sometimes, just placing yourself in the middle of a situation can provide the victim a way out. For instance, if you notice harassing behaviors when two people are isolated in an area of the office, try to inject yourself into the conversation in a non-confrontational way. You can even invite the victim to get coffee with you, just so she can get away from the harasser. While this is only a temporary solution, it could get the ball rolling for more aggressive measures. 

What is shift differential pay?

Throughout your life, you have likely been inundated with the idea that the typical workday begins by punching the clock at 9:00 am and calling it quits around 5:00 pm. Indeed, this is what most might consider to be a standard workday. Yet your job in Kansas City may require you to work odd hours, such as during the evening or even a graveyard shift. While it may be possible to adapt your daily schedule to accommodate such a work shift, it is also recognized that working such hours can take a physical and emotional toll on you. 

Just how might a non-traditional work shift impact you? It can make it difficult to accomplish certain tasks that are typically reserved for outside of standard working hours. It might also put strain on your relationships with others, as socializing can be difficult when they are working and you are off (or vice versa). Finally, it can also lead to health concerns due to a lack off typical rest (which is particularly true when you are asked to work a graveyard shift). 

How can everyone contribute to an inclusive environment?

Inclusivity is a term you hear often, but putting it into practice is a lot more difficult. While employers are obligated to ensure employees of all races, genders, and orientations feel comfortable in a given working environment, there are things peers can do to ensure the same. In this case, Entrepreneur recommends the following tips to make sure that all workers feel comfortable at the office. 

Don't make assumptions

Am I allowed to date a co-worker?

When you spend ample time at your place of work, it stands to reason that you might forge close, personal relationships with your co-workers. Some of these relationships may even develop into romances, which can be a cause for concern when it comes to sexual harassment and other issues. To ensure you remain on the right path, The Balance recommends the following advice for anyone entering into workplace romances. 

The first step is to determine whether your employer has any regulations in place banning dating between co-workers. Many employers stipulate that co-workers cannot date to spare the hassle and stress associated with a workplace romance gone bad. If this is explicitly stated within your employee handbook, it's best to avoid the situation or you could be at risk of losing your job. Even if your workplace doesn't have any outward rules or regulations regarding the issue, think about whether dating is discouraged in more general terms. 

How can I deal with a toxic boss?

A toxic, bullying boss can make work a living nightmare. It can also be difficult to deal with this issue since your boss holds authority over you and your position. There are steps you can take to mitigate the situation, however. Forbes offers the following tips on how you can deal with a toxic or abusive boss on a daily basis. 

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