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Employment discrimination in the workplace is still alive and well. It is important that Missouri residents are well-informed regarding their rights so that if something is amiss, it can be reported. Reporting is the only way to stop this behavior.

The State of Missouri prohibits employers from discriminating someone based upon age. In fact, your age cannot even contribute to your employer's decision to lay you off, terminate you, or demote you. To do so is age discrimination. Employers in the State of Missouri are also barred from taking any adverse employment actions based upon disability, gender, religion, race, color, or national origin. Again, to do so is classified as discrimination and is not allowed. Unfortunately, to date, there are no statewide protections for the LGBT community in Missouri. It is sad but true that in the State of Missouri, a person can still be fired for his/her sexual orientation or gender identity.

Senate Bill 188 was recent legislation that would have made it more difficult for employees to sue their employers for discrimination. The Bill, if successful, would have made trials more difficult and even if the employee won, it would have limited the available remedies. Specifically, Missouri Senate Bill 188 would have required the employee to prove that the discrimination was the "motivating factor" in the adverse employment action. Such a standard would have directly changed the current "contributing factor" standard. Further, the employee would have been barred from recovering attorneys' fees and also would have put caps on both mental damages and punitive damages. Thankfully, after Missouri Senate Bill 188 passed in the legislature, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the bill.

In addition to discrimination protection, Missouri provides protection for individuals who are sexually harassed or otherwised harassed at work. Missouri employers are not permitted to retaliate or punish employees who report any of the above behavior. If the employer does somehow punish the reporting employee (the "whistle-blower"), the employee may have a claim for retaliation and/or a whislte-blower lawsuit)

Other improper employment practices include:

FMLA violations – if an employee develops a serious health condition, the employee's family member develops a serious health condition, or the employee gives birth or adopts a child, that employee is entitled to FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) time per law, the employer must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (once per year) if the employee is covered

Fair Labor Standards Act Violations (FLSA) – where the employer fails to properly pay the employee for overtime by not calculating hours correcly, paying in goods or services instead of money, or not compensating the employer for all hours worked including training

Missouri Minimum Wage Law (MMWL) – the minimum wage in Missouri is currently $7.25 and any refusal to pay below that minimum wage is a violation of state law

Lindsay Rakers, Missouri and Illinois Attorney

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