Workplace discrimination is an evolving area of law, from who is protected and why, to what they are protected from. Thus, courts sometimes have trouble applying laws that may be outdated. Contrary to popular opinion, judges cannot make law, they can only interpret the law. Therefore, a court will not rule a new class of people is protected unless there is a way to interpret that the class is already protected under the language in the statute.
The Western District of Missouri Appeals Court, in a 2-to-1 decision, declined to rule that current Missouri law includes workplace discrimination protections against sexual orientation. The Chief Judge wrote words to the effect that regardless of any sympathy the court may have for the plaintiff’s situation, it is bound to adhere to current state laws.
In spite of this particular ruling, it is important to remember that workplace discrimination laws protect against the different treatment of people because of their membership in a protected class. Acts of workplace discrimination may include things as refusing to hire on account of sex, disciplining someone based on race, denying training or promotions, providing unequal pay or behavior that constitutes general harassment.
Don’t wait for blatant acts of workplace discrimination. Sometimes it is overt like not getting promoted, but usually it is something as simple as always, taking the latest lunch or your supervisor always asking you first to work the overnight shift. Discrimination is insidious, and you may not even realize you’re being victimized. It is possible your supervisor may not realize that he or she is discriminating against you.
If you believe you may be the victim of workplace discrimination, you may wish to contact an employment attorney to ensure that your rights are represented. Every person has the right to work in an environment free from discrimination, don’t forego your rights.
Source: Washington Times, “Court rules Missouri law denies gays employment protection,” Oct. 28, 2015