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Information for Missouri Employees

For Missouri Employees

Employees who perform work in the state of Missouri are covered by a variety of statutory and judicially-crafted employment laws. Several of these laws differ from laws in Kansas. Discussed below are key Missouri employment laws which may apply to any employee working in Missouri.

Discrimination in the workplace:

All federal laws discussed elsewhere in this website apply to Missouri employees. Discrimination based upon sex, race, national origin, disability and religion is prohibited for employers with as few as six employees under Missouri law. For Federal discrimination laws to apply, the Missouri employer must have at least 15 employees.

Remedies for discrimination under Missouri law are more generous than those under federal law. Therefore, it is generally preferred to initiate a claim of unlawful workplace discrimination in Missouri with the state agency handling these claims, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. This process involves proceeding with a Charge of Discrimination to the agency, which has regional offices in Kansas City, Missouri and elsewhere throughout the state.

Contracts in the workplace:

Unlike the law in Kansas, Missouri law does not give employees the right to challenge their employer for failing to abide by its own written policies. There is no "implied breach of contract" legal claim available to Missouri employees.

Few Missouri workers will possess an actual, formal written contract of employment. In such a case, though, the document is generally binding, unless a term is found 'unreasonable.' Common examples of that situation arise from "Noncompete agreements." These forms of employment agreements must contain restrictions which a court finds are reasonable in scope, both as to time limitations and geographic restrictions. For example, a 5-year non-competition provision might well be found too extreme, and thus unenforceable. A generally accepted restriction on competition is two years or less.

Unlike the discrimination claim above, there is no need to file an initial administrative complaint with state or federal agencies before filing suit.

Retaliation in the workplace:

In Missouri, employees are protected from retribution by their employer for things such as the following: (a) Filing a worker's compensation claim, or even simply missing work due to a work injury; (b) Supporting a fellow employee's worker's compensation claim, or unemployment claim; (c) Notifying a public agency of company wrongdoing; (d) Refusing to engage in unlawful conduct when requested by company management.

If a Missouri employee is retaliated against in this manner, by being fired or demoted, the employee may immediately bring a lawsuit in the Missouri courts. One may recover actual financial damages, as well as "compensatory damages" for emotional distress, inconvenience, humiliation and the like. Punitive damages may also be available.

Once again, unlike the discrimination claim above, there is no need to file an initial administrative complaint with state or federal agencies before filing suit.

Strategies for the Missouri Employee:

When in doubt, our advice is always the same to a frustrated employee: MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD. Many legal remedies are only available to the employee who first notifies his or her employer of their tangible legal concerns. Many employers will respond favorably to the expression of concern.

Barring the recognition of one's rights, seek legal counsel. This step may be accomplished by and through the relevant federal or state agency, and through retention of private legal counsel. The most effective results are obtained by vigilant employees who seek the earliest possible recognition of their legal rights in the workplace.

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