Any employee in the United States can be subjected to discrimination in some form or another, and there are protections in place to deal with this discrimination. However, some industries are disproportionately affected. The service industry is one of these industries. Many workers in restaurants, bars and coffee shops, unfortunately, face different types of discrimination on levels that tend to be higher than workers in other industries.

If you are a service industry worker in Missouri, you have certain rights and protections when it comes to workplace harassment and discrimination. It is important that you are able to recognize a situation that is discriminatory and that you know how to take action.

Why are service industry workers disproportionately affected by discrimination?

There are many reasons why service industry workers are affected by discrimination on a disproportionate level. One of the suggested factors is related to the nature of the work. A service worker may be treated with less respect, for example, and, therefore, becomes more vulnerable to racial, national or gender-based discrimination. In addition, service industry workers may not be fully aware of their rights regarding discrimination. Discrimination in any form should never be tolerated as an employee, and swift action should be taken.

How do I know if I have been discriminated against?

There are many different ways in which a person can be discriminated against. However, if you believe that you have been treated unfairly at work because of your race, nationality, gender or other characteristic, it is possible that you have experienced unlawful discrimination.

It is not enough to show that you have been treated badly. Your employer can be rude, demanding, unreasonable and incompetent without breaking the law. He or she cannot treat you worse than others based on a protected characteristic like age, gender or race. Comments referencing these or other protected characteristics are evidence of discrimination. Patterns of behavior where workers sharing these traits are held back, singled out or otherwise harmed is also evidence. If you are unsure, you should speak to an attorney to help determine if you have a case.

How can I take action as a worker affected by discrimination?

If you believe that you have been discriminated against at work, you should make sure to note down all the details regarding the incident. You can report it to your manager, or you can decide to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). When you file a claim with the EEOC, you will be legally protected from retaliation by your employer. This means that you cannot be fired by your employer because of the fact that you filed a complaint.

It is important that you take action to stand up for your right to equality in the Missouri workplace.