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Kansas City Missouri Employment Law Blog

What is gender-based harassment?

No matter where you work in Missouri, it is important to understand the rules that govern workplace behavior. With this information, you may ensure you act appropriately at the office and also know what to do if you experience some form of harassment at work. One issue you may not hear about often is gender-based harassment. This form of sexual harassment may not involve explicit sexual behavior, but it is still unethical and may violate certain workplace laws.

You may get more information on workplace discrimination and harassment from the Missouri Department of Labor. While the term "sexual harassment" usually refers to sexual advances, physical contact or violence, gender-based harassment covers other behaviors. If you hear slurs about males or females or experience negative stereotyping of your gender, it may be gender-based harassment. Other common examples of this type of behavior include denigrating language and epithets relating to gender.

Are you experiencing workplace retaliation?

Standing up for yourself after experiencing some form of harassment or discrimination is a courageous act. Unfortunately, reporting your harassment or discrimination to your employer doesn't always mean a return to a comfortable workplace.

The Department of Labor protects people like you who have spoken up about workplace discrimination.

Are you the victim of workplace bullying?

If one or more of your Missouri coworkers has targeted you for bullying, you know how distressful and humiliating this behavior can be. It can make your workplace almost unbearable. Unfortunately, bullying has become all too common throughout the American workforce.

WorkplaceBullying.org defines on-the-job bullying as “health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators” that includes the following:

  • Intimidating, threatening and/or humiliating treatment
  • Treatment that negatively impacts your work and your production
  • The use of verbally abusive language
  • Repetitive negative behaviors that continue over time

Controversial sexual assault bill debated in state senate

A contentious Missouri bill that would have changed federal Title IX sexual assault and harassment protections for college students stalled earlier this month after a vigorous debate.

Proposed by Republican Sen. Gary Romine of Farmington, Senate Bill 259 would have required colleges and universities to establish commissions to hear student sexual harassment cases. The students involved could have attorneys, cross examinations could take place and there would be an appeals process.

Providing accommodations for women who are pregnant

Discrimination in the workplace can affect many groups of people, particularly those who have specific needs or are in a more vulnerable situation. Among those, women who are pregnant, but still undertaking the day-to-day responsibilities of a professional job. Employers in Missouri should be making adequate efforts to accommodate pregnant women and support them in their jobs by providing the resources they need to work comfortably and safely. 

A pregnant woman may face many challenges as she continues to work throughout her pregnancy. Distractions ranging from morning sickness and the sudden onset of fatigue to the often-limiting mobility that is part of pregnancy can undoubtedly create difficulties that can lead to poor performance if not addressed appropriately.

What is origin discrimination?

Missouri employees have the right to a fair and comfortable workplace, no matter their age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or race. One other way that employees can be discriminated against is national origin discrimination. According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, this involves treating employees or applicants unfavorably because there are from a different part of the world or country. Origin discrimination is also treating someone unfavorable because they look as if they are from a certain ethnic background or because they have an accent.

Harassment for origin can include:

  •          Derogatory or offensive remarks about an applicant or employee’s origin
  •          Harassment that creatives an offensive or hostile work environment for the employee
  •          When an adverse employment decision, such as a demotion or firing, is the result of discrimination

What constitutes pregnancy discrimination in the workplace?

If a Missouri applicant or employee is treated differently or unfavorably because they are pregnant, just had a child or has a medical condition related to childbirth or pregnancy, the employer may be violating the law. According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from discriminating in pay, hiring, firing, promotions, job assignments, training, layoff and fringe benefits based on the pregnancy.

This applies to any employer that has 15 or more employees. It also includes employment agencies, local governments, the federal government and labor organizations. There may also be paid leave requirements based on state and local laws. If you are unable to perform certain job requirements because of childbirth or pregnancy, you must be treated the same way as any other employee who is temporarily disabled.

Tips to make the most of your work breaks

If you are like the majority of Missouri workers, you take a few minutes every hour to do something other than job-related tasks. The law entitles you to breaks throughout the day to eat and to otherwise refresh yourself. At Thornberry Brown, LLC we often represent clients denied their breaks or penalized for taking them.

According to Fast Company, research indicates that short breaks throughout the day can improve productivity. However, the timing of your break and what you do during that time make a difference in effectiveness:

  • Step away from your duties for a few minutes during the workday. Doing something that you want to do, as opposed to something you have to do, increases attention and reduces fatigue.  Whether it is a work-related task, daydreaming or watching videos, the downtime can help you do your job better, with renewed focus.
  • Enjoy a walk around the block or office building to kickstart your creativity. Exercise, whether outdoors or inside can help generate new ideas and boost energy levels, but studies show that walks through tree-filled landscapes have the most restorative power.
  • Take a break from lunch plans. When you spend your lunch hour chatting or completing tasks you did not choose, it can be as tiring as not taking a break at all. Do something you want to do during lunch to keep energy levels higher.

What you should know about Missouri’s minimum wage increase

If you are working for minimum wage in Missouri, you may have noticed an increase in your paycheck since the beginning of the year. This is a direct result from Proposition B that was passed in Missouri in November 2018. This law increased the minimum wage rate from $7.85 per hour to $8.60 per hour beginning January 1, 2019. It does not stop there, however. Minimum wage increases will continue to take place every year until 2023, where it will top out at $12 per hour. After that, minimum wage fluctuations may occur, depending on the cost-of-living at that time.

In addition to an increase in minimum wages, the new law increased the statute of limitations on legal claims involving wage issues. You now have three years from the date of the incident to bring a claim against your employer for paying you deficient wages, or wages that equal less than minimum wage. Furthermore, the law presents penalties for employers who fail to pay their employees the proper minimum wage rate. After 2019, any employer who pays less than minimum wage may be required to repay the employee the full wage rate, as well as twice the unpaid wages amount. The employer may also be responsible for paying attorneys’ fees in the case.

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