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Examining the rights of minimum wage earners

A common misconception held by many in Kansas City is that state and federal wage and hour laws only apply to people at a certain level of employment. Those in entry level positions only making a minimum wage may feel like they have no legal recourse if they are not being compensated fairly. This assumption may be due in large part to the opinion that some may have that the work such employees do requires little skills, making them easily replaceable. Yet in reality, those making minimum wage have the right to expect that they be paid what the law mandates, and that the fear of being fired should not be a tool employers use to exploit them. 

A standard minimum wage was first set in Missouri in 2007. That initial wage was $6.50. State statutes mandated that it be raised on January 1 of each year to account for annual increases in the cost of living (which is to be determined by the state's Department of Labor). According to the Missouri DOL, the state's minimum wage currently sits at $7.85. Every employer operating in the state is expected to follow that standard. The only exceptions are retailers or service providers whose annual gross income is less than $500,000. 

Those who are not being paid the state-mandated minimum wage have two forms of legal recourse they can pursue. They can file a minimum wage complaint through on the website for the state's DOL. Section 290.527 of Missouri's Labor and Industrial Relations Code also states that an employee can bring civil action against an employer for the total amount in wages due along with liquidated damages minus any wages the employee has already been paid. 

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