Employees in Missouri have the right to work in an environment that is free from harassment, intimidation, and illegal activities. When an employer retaliates against an employee for reporting a violation of public policy, such as discrimination or sexual harassment, a wrongful termination attorney in Jackson County, Missouri can help. Individuals who speak up against their employers are called whistleblowers, and there are specific laws designed to protect them.
Can You Legally Be Fired for Whistleblowing in Missouri?
In Missouri, an employer cannot legally fire a whistleblower for reporting employer abuse. Any activity that is a violation of public policy is subject to investigation. Employers who retaliate against individuals who report abuse directed to themselves or others violate the law. If you feel you have been the victim of employer retaliation, a qualified lawyer can help you file a complaint to hold your employer accountable.
At-Will Employment Vs Whistleblowing
Many people do not realize their employment status is protected against employer retaliation. That is because in Missouri, the at-will employment doctrine stipulates that an employer may terminate an employee at any time for any reason. However, modern employment law recognizes significant exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine. Both common law and statutory protections exist to protect employees who speak up in the following situations:
- Sexual abuse
- Attempts to coerce employees into illegal activity
- Violations of public safety
- Wage and hour violations
- Attempts to deny workers their workplace rights
- Other violations of public policy
Who Is considered a Whistleblower?
A whistleblower is anyone who reports employer abuse. A whistleblower could be the victim of the abuse themselves, or someone else in the workplace who has observed misconduct directed at others. For example, if you submit a statement as part of an on-going investigation into a violation of public policy, you are protected under whistleblower laws.
What Is Public Policy?
The term public policy refers to the unwritten values on which social laws are based. To determine public policy in the case of employment law violations, courts will reference professional codes of ethics, past judicial decisions, statutes, and constitutional provisions. In general, public policy supports a work place that is safe for employees and free of harassment. Employees have the right to report violations of public policy without fearing negative consequences from their employers.
What Is Employer Retaliation?
Employer retaliation is the illegal practice of taking punitive measures against employers who speak up against abuse. It is a form of adverse action, or hostility towards employees. Often, it takes the form of firing. However, there are many other ways that employers retaliate, including:
- Reducing work hours or job responsibilities
- Decreasing an employees pay rate
- Issuing a negative evaluation against the employee
- Submitting poor references when the employee applies for another job
How Can an Employment Law Attorney Help Protect Your Rights
Evaluating Your Case
If you feel that you have grounds for an employer retaliation case, it is important to speak with an attorney right away. Employer retaliation and adverse action are broad terms that can encompass a wide range of inappropriate behavior. Even if the employer who retaliated against you did not fire you, you should speak with an attorney to learn whether your situation qualifies as employer retaliation.
Fighting for Your Rights
Going up against your employer can be intimidating, especially if they have already shown hostility towards you. Having a lawyer on your side shows them that you are serious about protecting your rights. Working with a legal professional who knows employment law forward and backward reduces the chances that your employer will try further intimidation tactics or operate under the assumption that you are unaware of the laws that protect you.
In many cases, employers who are confronted with a complaint seek to resolve the issue with a settlement offer. They are more likely to make a generous offer to avoid litigation costs if they see you are working with a qualified lawyer. Settling outside of court can help you receive compensation faster and avoid a lengthy court battle. Your attorney can help negotiate for a fair settlement and represent you in a trial if needed.
Guiding You Through the Legal System
When you submit a complaint against your employer, there are certain protocols that need to be followed and deadlines that must be observed. For many types of whistleblower claims, you have five years from the date of the incident to file in Missouri. However, in the case of claims involving discrimination, that statute of limitations is 180 days, and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights will conduct an investigation before issuing a “right-to-sue” letter.
Whatever type of employer retaliation complaint you need to file, your attorney can make sure you understand how to submit it correctly in full compliance with the law. This will save you time and ensure that your case goes forward without unnecessary issues.
The legal system benefits those with knowledge, experience, and resources. Skilled employment lawyers are familiar with the tactics your employer might try in an attempt to downplay your complaint. By bringing their legal training and experience to your case, your lawyer will empower you to go up against the employer who acted wrongly.
When Do Whistleblower Laws Protect You?
When an employee reports a violation of employment law, he or she is considered a whistleblower and has certain protections under the law. Here are some of the most common situations that trigger employers to make illegal transgressions when dealing with whistleblowers:
Sexual harassment refers to inappropriate and unwanted attention of a gender-based, sexual nature. It could include comments, requests for favors, and physical advances.
In Missouri, it is illegal to discriminate based on race, color, sex, age, family status, religion, national origin, ancestry, or disability. Violations of employment law with respect to discrimination usually necessitate an investigation, which could involve statements from employees who witnessed the offense. These employees, as well as the victims, are protected under whistleblower laws.
Attempts to Prevent You From Exercising Your Rights as an Employee
According to employment law, you have certain rights as an employee, including taking time off for maternity leave, collecting workers compensation when you are injured, and performing jury duties. If your employer attempts to intimidate you because they feel that you are exercising your rights at their expense, their retaliatory actions are illegal.
Reports of Illegal Activity
You have the right to report illegal activity on the part of your supervisors, co-workers, and employers. You also have the right to file a complaint if your employer attempt to pressure you into engaging in illegal activities while you are on the job. Workplace environments where such incidents are common include, but are not limited to:
- Nursing homes
- Medical facilities
- Penal facilities
- Municipal police forces
Work With a Top Wrongful Termination Attorney in Jackson County, Missouri
Standing up to an abusive employer requires courage and a determination to fight for your rights. Your case gets stronger when you work with a top wrongful termination attorney in Jackson County, Missouri. Filing an employer retaliation complaint can give you closure and protect the rights of other employees everywhere. To learn more about how you can exercise your rights as you stand up for justice, contact Holman Schiavone, LLC today.