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April 2013 Archives

Lawmakers introduce bill to change overtime pay rules

Republicans reintroduced a bill that has been turned down several times in the past. The proposed new name of the bill is the Working Families Flexibility Act.The current wage laws require employers to pay employees time and a half for any time that exceeds 40 hours in a week. This law does not cover independent contractors, and there are clauses regarding salaried workers. Missouri residents could consult with an employment law attorney as a resource to understand the current law and proposed legislation.

Missouri women sues Hooters for workplace discrimination

A former waitress for the Hooters restaurant chain claims she was discriminated against on the basis of disability following brain surgery in 2012. The woman has filed a lawsuit in Missouri court seeking $25,000 for emotional and mental distress she says she suffered as a result of the alleged employment discrimination. She also seeks punitive damages and attorney fees against the restaurant chain.The woman began working for Hooters in 2005 and continued working there while she attended nursing school. In June 2012, just six weeks before her graduation, she began suffering numbness and tingling on the left side of her body. She was diagnosed with bleeding on the brain and underwent surgery on July 2, 2012. While she was still hospitalized, the woman's manager visited her and told her that she could come back to work just as soon as she was able.

Fast food workers fight for wages and unions

Missouri and Kansas fast-food workers may be interested in the unionization efforts of fast-food workers and new wage laws in other parts of the country. Workers in New York fast-food restaurants recently held a one day strike to publicize their efforts to unionize and obtain higher wages, more certain schedules, and enhanced benefits. In December, 2012, New York passed a law that would raise the state minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $9.00 per hour by 2015. Some fast-food workers say that raise isn't enough. The Women's Center for Education and Career Advancement said in a 2010 study that a single New Yorker with no dependents would need to earn $12.56 per hour to live without relying on government subsidies. The number goes up to $23.39 per hour if the worker has a child to support.

Employers keep track of alleged employee theft

In recent years, theft by employees has been an increasing problem for many employers. As a result, some Kansas City retail companies have begun to use databases to record employees accused of theft. Tens of thousands of companies, including some major retailers, subscribe to these databases. There is some question about how these databases impact employee rights.An employer may enter an employee into the system with little information. Sometimes only suspected thefts are reported, and many of the reports do not result in criminal charges against the accused employee. Regardless, the existence of the employee's information in a database may prevent that person from being hired.

Dealing with age discrimination in the workplace

If someone over the age of 40 is looking for work in Missouri, they may be being passed up for a less qualified but younger applicant. While there are numerous protections for people who face workplace discrimination related to gender, ethnicity and religion, the laws related to age discrimination are relatively weak. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, makes discrimination against those who are 40 and older illegal, but it does not allow for "mixed motive cases" or compensatory and punitive damages. Mixed motive cases, where discrimination is part of the reason for failing to hire someone, are a reason to contest an employment decision under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Many antidiscrimination experts believe that for the ADEA to do its job, it needs to be beefed up and on par with the Civil Rights Act. Until that is done, there is little to deter businesses from continuing to discriminate against older workers. 

Schools could pay high price for avoiding right-to-work laws

Missouri and Kansas teachers may be interested in how the controversial new right-to-work laws in another state are affecting that state's education system. In Michigan, some school districts and colleges are approving new contracts that will let them avoid the legislation for a few years. However, side-stepping the laws could cause a problem. State Republicans are angry that some schools have simply lengthened employee contracts in order to skirt the issue of addressing employee rights. The costs could possibly escalate as high as seven figures for some learning institutions, especially universities. 

US drivers more prone to distracted driving than European nations

Multitasking is a way of life for many throughout the Kansas City metro area. In an effort to accomplish as many things as possible in as short of time as possible, doing two (or more) things at the same time has become commonplace. Anyplace or anywhere an additional moment can be stolen, we do. This includes talking on the phone while driving.

Anti-transgender bill could set a precedent

Transgendered residents of Missouri may be interested to know that an Arizona bill would prevent transgendered people from using the public restrooms that matched their new sexes and that the bill met with resistance as dissenters showed up to challenge it on March 20. The bill would make people who use public bathrooms in the state use the facility that matches the sexes listed on their birth certificates or be subject to six months in jail. Transgender supporters, including men in dresses and women in suits and ties, came to show their disapproval of the legislation and what some people say are the country's strictest anti-transgender laws. The representative announced delaying the debate on the legislation because of paperwork glitches. The public reaction against the possible passing of the legislation shows a national growing concern with the rights of transgendered people. Laws against the workplace discrimination of transgendered people vary from state to state and from city to city.

Missouri woman sues boss for sexual harassment

A Missouri woman claims that her boss began sexually harassing her as early as her job interview. According to the complaint filed in a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former employer, the woman claims the owner of Spear Construction asked her during a February 2011 job interview to stand and turn around so he could take a "look at her butt." The woman says she took the position anyway because she needed the money to support her child. The complaint contains numerous allegations of the unwelcome sexual behavior to which she and at least one other woman were subjected at the hands of her boss. Another female employee discovered the man had installed a secret camera in the company restroom, which he was using to videotape women. After that woman brought both a civil lawsuit and criminal charges against the man, he offered to buy the plaintiff in the current case a house and new SUV if she would lie on his behalf.