Employment laws protect employees at all stages from hire to fire. Here are points to consider as a Missouri employee.
Help-wanted ads, interviews, and hiring decisions cannot be discriminatory. Employers may not consider factors such as race, age, religion, gender, pregnancy, or disability when making hiring decisions.
Minimum Wage and Overtime
Federal law sets minimum wage and overtime rules that encompass many, but not all, employees and employers. States can create their own minimum wage and overtime laws as well and they may provide more protection than federal ones. Missouri's laws are comparable to federal laws.
Employers are required by law to provide a safe working environment. Employers may not fire employees who report unsafe working conditions, such as pollutants, faulty equipment, lack of safety devices or contamination.
Workers’ compensation is a kind of insurance that offers replacement income and medical coverage to employees who are injured during their employment. This compensation is in exchange for the employee giving up his right to sue his employer for personal injuries under tort law. Workers’ compensation provides eligible employees with medical and hospital treatment and partial income replacement until the employee can return to work or until the worker reaches maximum medical improvement. Missouri employers with five or more employees, as well as any construction employer with one or more employees, must carry workers’ compensation benefits. An employee must have been personally injured, by accident, while working. The injury must arise in the course of employment.
Some types of time off are mandated by federal and state law. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act applies in Missouri. Registered voters are allowed to take up to three hours of paid leave to vote, unless three successive non-working available hours are available to them while the polls are open. Some smaller employers might not be required to comply with this law, however.
Harassment in Missouri
Harassment is unlawful under federal law. Harassment is defined as unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based upon race, religion, sex, color, age, retaliation, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation. Conduct rises to the level of harassment when it's severe enough to create a hostile work environment, or when a supervisor’s conduct creates a measured change in an employee’s benefits or status. Harassment includes, but isn't limited to, sexual harassment.
Most states offer “at will” employment. Without a contract stating otherwise, either the employer or employee can may terminate their relationship for almost any reason for for no reason at all. Missouri is an “at will” state. However, employers may not fire workers for illegal or discriminatory reasons such as those based on age, gender, race, national origin or disability. They also cannot fire anyone due to a filed workers’ compensation claim, a demand for proper wages or overtime pay, a request to take time off for medical reasons or to care for ill family members, or whistle blowing. Missouri does not have a law that requires that unused vacation pay must be included in fired employees’ final paychecks.
After employment terminates, employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits and COBRA. Very small companies are usually exempt.
Employment law is complicated. If you have questions about your work situation, you should talk with a Missouri labor and employment lawyer.