Employers in every sector of the economy in Missouri have a certain set of laws and regulations that they must abide by in order to foster a safe work environment for their employees. If you know of an employer engaging in these illegal activities, an employee rights attorney may be able to help you with your case. Know your rights so that you can protect them when you’re on the job. Keep an eye out for these ten illegal behaviors that employers engage in so that you know the extent of your protection under the law.

Workplace Law in Missouri: 10 Things Your Employer Can’t Legally Do

1. Treat You Like a Contractor When You’re Really an Employee

There are a number of ways that employers try to cut costs to improve their bottom line, but when these cost-cutting measures lead to you being treated unfairly, there may be a violation of the law. For example, an employer may classify you as an independent contractor even if you are legally an employee to avoid having to provide you with full-time benefits. You may have a case against your employer if you have been wrongly classified as a contractor. Review your case with an attorney to ascertain the next best step for you to take.

2. Take Gender into Account When Giving Promotions

Gender discrimination at the workplace is highly illegal. An employer is not allowed to take into account facts of gender and sex when it comes to hiring, and the same holds true when deciding who to give a promotion to. This form of discrimination law also prohibits an employer from taking your plans to start a family or have children into account when giving out a promotion. If you feel that your employer is using gender as a discrimination factor, contact an employee rights attorney for help.

3. Fire You Over Reporting Unsafe Work Conditions

Everybody wants a job so that they can be productive and reap the rewards earned by their hard work, but it’s important that you feel safe when you’re at the workplace. If you see something on the job that isn’t compliant with safe workplace regulations, it’s important that you follow the proper procedures for reporting that violation. Doing so protects both yourself and your fellow employees. What becomes a problem from a legal standpoint is when your employer takes action against you for reporting the unsafe conditions that you faced. This is illegal retaliation and is grounds for an employer to be brought to court for their offenses.

4. Retaliate Against Whistleblowers

Just like an employer can’t legally go after an employee who reported unsafe working conditions, it is also illegal for them to retaliate against somebody who called out an illegal or unethical action being taken by the workplace. There are a number of laws preventing whistleblowers, which encourages the reporting of any illegal activities at the workplace. It’s important that you understand the limitations of these whistleblower laws so that you know exactly what your rights are. Whistleblowing laws are meant to protect workers who expose serious issues at the workplace, such as corruption or fraud. You won’t be protected by these laws if the complaint is something more frivolous, like your boss having a bed temper.

5. Ask Prohibited Questions During the Hiring Process

Although most of this list deals with actions taken once you’re already hired, there are illegal actions an employer can take even before you have a job with them. For example, asking about your age or marital status when considering you for employment is forbidden under the law. If you see a job posting that ignores laws related to what can be asked during the hiring process, contact an employee rights attorney. They can help to remedy the situation and keep the recruitment process fair and lawful.

6. Discipline You for Certain Social Media Activity

One new development​​​​ in the way we communicate that workplaces are still catching up with is social media. It has become a well-known fact that employers monitor both current employees and prospective employees on social media, but there is a legal limit to how they can use this information. For example, making posts on social media that discuss your employer’s failure to live up to the expectations placed on them for creating a safe and reasonable workplace. If, for instance, you make a post complaining that your employer doesn’t leave adequate time for restroom breaks for employees, your employer is forbidden from reprimanding you. They are also unable to dissuade any labor organization done over social media.

7. Allow You to Work Unpaid

While there can be other rewards that come from employment, the primary reason any employee is on the job is to make the money they need to meet their needs in life. That’s why it’s important that you are compensated for all the time that you work according to the terms of your employment. It is illegal for your employer to have you work hours that you aren’t compensated for. If you suspect your employer isn’t treating you fairly in this regard, it may be helpful to keep your own independent track of the time you work to compare it to what you’re being paid.

8. Not Compensate You Properly for Overtime

As well as being legally required to pay you properly for all of the time that you work, your employer is also forbidden under the law from refusing to pay you overtime. There are different requirements for what is considered overtime that vary depending on your employment situation, but refusing to pay overtime is illegal. If you qualify for overtime pay, your paycheck should reflect that. Be sure to scrutinize your own pay statements so that you know your employer is treating you fairly with regards to the extra hours that you’re working.

9. Forbid You from Discussing Compensation with Co-Workers

One common misconception that employers spread among their workforce is that it’s improper to discuss the salaries that they are being paid. This is simply because it benefits the employer to have employees be unaware that there are other workers being compensated better for similar work to what they’re doing. It is illegal for an employer to reprimand you for discussing salaries. If you faced consequences for discussing your salary at the workplace, talk to an employee rights attorney because you may have a case.

10. Create or Ignore a Hostile Work Environment

Nobody wants to dread going into a toxic environment every day that they work. A hostile work environment is described as a workplace where an individual or a group make unwanted sexual advances, offensive comments, or engage in bullying at the workplace. This behavior is unacceptable at the workplace, and it is illegal for your employer to condone it or to not take steps to end the hostile work environment. You have a legal right to be protected from offensive and discriminatory comments and behaviors while on the job.

Contact an Employee Rights Attorney

If you feel that your rights have been violated by your employer, either in the ways described above or through another illegal act, don’t hesitate to get the legal support you need. Contact Holman Schiavone, LLC today for a free consultation!