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In a work relationship, the worker is often at a disadvantage to the employer's whim. As an at-will employment state, Missouri allows employers to terminate workers for any or no reason at any time. While many work relationships are protected from such spontaneous decisions by employment contracts or agreements, a worker may feel as if their job is on the line if they go against their employer's wishes.
However, employers can be held accountable for unfair or illegal actions. Worker rights are established and protected under Missouri's employment laws.
Employment law covers a multitude of topics, including worker's compensation, workplace discrimination, vacation and overtime, unemployment benefits and more. Your employment dispute is often affected by federal, state and local laws simultaneously. Missouri employment law attorneys are experienced with the delicacy and complexity of work-related cases and can help protect your rights.
Workplace discrimination and retaliation are two of the most common employment law issues in Missouri. In these cases, an employer unfairly makes hiring, termination, promotional or disciplinary decisions for a worker based on prejudice or to unethically protect the employer's business.
For example, if a hardware company in St. Louis doesn't hire an engineer because they are 68 years old, the employer may be in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act. Similarly, an employer cannot discipline a worker in any way if the worker reported or testified to any discriminatory actions by the employer or other workers.
Missouri's lawmakers are considering raising the burden of proof in workplace discrimination and retaliation cases. While discrimination would still be illegal and actionable if the proposed laws were passed, workers would need to prove that their employer broke the law because of discrimination only. If there was any other contributing factor, the worker's claims could be challenged and likely dismissed in court.
Missouri's minimum wage is $7.70/hour as of January 2017—a five-cent increase from the 2016 wage. The state minimum wage could increase again in 2018 depending on the movement of the Consumer Price Index. Two minimum wage increase bills have been proposed to appear on the November 6, 2018 ballot. One bill calls for an increase to $12/hour by 2022 while the other calls for an increase to $15/hour by 2026.
In February 2017, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed a state right to work bill into law. The bill prohibits labor unions from requiring employees to join or pay dues to qualify for employment.
Labor unions are formed by an organization of workers in a certain trade or profession. The governing body of a labor union protects its members' interests and rights and negotiates with employers and legislators to its members' benefit through collective bargaining.
Some collective bargaining deals require employers to employ union members only, forcing prospective employees to join a union and pay dues even if the union doesn't serve the employee's interests. The new Missouri right to work law bypasses collective bargaining agreements and allows any worker to seek employment without needing to join a union or pay dues.
If you or a loved one is involved in an employment law dispute, it's in your best interests to consult with an attorney. Employment law is a broad, complicated legal area with federal and state laws at play. An experienced Missouri employment law attorney can help protect your legal rights.
Have you been discriminated against by a potential or current employer -- as a job applicant or current employee? To best protect your legal rights you should discuss your situation with an employment lawyer. Meet with a local employment for employees attorney sooner rather than later to protect your rights.