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Affirmative action differs from workplace discrimination

Missouri workers are affected by affirmative action laws that require their employer to proactively seek out employees from specific protected classes in the workforce at comparable levels to those of groups without protection under the law. These affirmative action mandates are distinct and separate from any applicable non-discrimination laws.

While Missouri prohibits employment discrimination, the state has no requirements in place for private employers to establish an affirmative action plan. The state's Fair Employment Practices Act does prohibit any employment practices that discriminate based on an employee's religion, national origin, race, ancestry, color, age, sex or disability. Companies that employ at least six workers are covered under the Act.

Still another law prohibits employers from discriminating against workers or applicants based on the results of genetic tests. According to the Act, no preferential treatment may be given to any group of people or individual if they are underrepresented in the company's workforce.

It can be difficult for the average worker to sort out the legal differences between Affirmative Action legislation and laws preventing discrimination in the workplace. Sometimes discriminatory acts can be insidious and difficult to identify.

If discrimination is suspected, it is very important for the employee to keep detailed logs of each instance of suspected discrimination and who participated in it and/or witnessed it. These logs may be later used to establish a pattern of discriminatory actions on the part of the employer and could have evidentiary value in the event that an employee decides to pursue legal action in the Missouri civil court system at some future point.

Source: Business and Legal Resources, "Missouri Affirmative Action: What you need to know" accessed Feb. 13, 2015

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