A number of different types of discrimination are prohibited by law, and here in Jackson County, Missouri, you are protected by both federal and state regulations. Contact an employee rights attorney right away if you have been discriminated against, and keep reading to learn more about what discrimination is, what types or prohibited, and what to do next.
What Constitutes Discrimination?
The first step in pursuing your rights under the law is to understand whether you’ve been discriminated against in a legal sense. When it comes to employment, discrimination can come in various forms:
This occurs when an employer refuses to hire someone because of a protected characteristic. You must be able to show that you weren’t hired due to a protected characteristic and because another candidate was a better fit for the job.
This happens when an employer pays someone less than they would pay someone who did not have your protected characteristic. It’s important here that the pay discrepancy between you and another employee be based on a protected characteristic, not on a difference in education, qualifications, or experience.
This type of discrimination occurs when an employer refuses to promote you because of a protected characteristic. You can usually prove this best by showing that others with fewer qualifications than you are being promoted.
This is when an employer or co-worker harasses someone because of a protected characteristic. This can include verbal abuse, physical abuse, or sexual harassment.
Retaliation happens when an employer reacts negatively towards you in certain ways because you made a discrimination complaint. This retaliation can include firing you, giving you a false bad performance review, or assigning you to less desirable work or worse hours.
Types of Discrimination Prohibited by Law
This type of discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and by the Missouri Human Rights Act. This type of discrimination occurs when someone is treated differently because of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. For example, if a black employee is passed over for a promotion in favor of a white employee with less experience, racial discrimination may be at play.
This type of discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the Missouri Human Rights Act. This type of discrimination occurs when someone is treated differently because of their age. For example, an employer might refuse to hire someone because they are over 40 or might fire someone because they are over 65. In some cases, employers don’t fire older employees directly. Instead, they attempt to make the workplace so unpleasant that the employee voluntarily resigns.
This type of discrimination is prohibited federally by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Missouri Human Rights Act. This type of discrimination occurs when someone is treated differently because of a disability when the employer could have made reasonable accommodation.
It would not be reasonable, for example, to require a trucking company to hire a blind person as a driver. However, if a blind person is perfectly capable of doing an office job at the company, but the employer refuses to provide a screen reader that would make this possible, there may be a case for discrimination.
This type of discrimination is prohibited by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008. This type of discrimination occurs when someone is treated differently because of genetic information, usually about predisposition to a certain disease. For example, an employer might refuse to hire someone because they have a genetic predisposition to cancer or diabetes.
This is discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical conditions. This type of discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and by the Missouri Human Rights Act.
This type of discrimination occurs when someone is treated differently because they are pregnant, have recently given birth, or have a medical condition caused by having recently given birth. An example of this type of discrimination might be if a pregnant employee is fired after she asks for a modified schedule to accommodate her pregnancy.
This type of discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and by the Missouri Human Rights Act. In most cases, employers may not discriminate against anyone on the basis of their religion. For example, an employer may be discriminating if they know a Christian employee wants to be in church on Sunday mornings and deliberately schedules them in a way to make this impossible.
There are some exceptions to the religious discrimination rules, however. The Missouri Human Rights Act, for instance, specifies that this does not apply to “corporations and associations 100 percent owned and operated by religious or sectarian groups that require all its employees to be a member of the religion or sect.”
This type of discrimination occurs when you are treated differently than someone of the opposite sex would be. Both the Missouri Human Rights Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protect you from this type of discrimination. This discrimination can take many forms.
For example, a woman may be denied a promotion even though she is more qualified than a man. Or, a man may be harassed in the workplace with unwanted sexual jokes and pictures.
The Missouri Human Rights Act protects you from discrimination that occurs in retaliation for making a charge of discrimination, for participating in a discrimination hearing (even as a witness), or for opposing discrimination that you experience or witness.
It’s important to remember that this protection doesn’t apply to acts of “petty” discrimination, such as if your colleagues start to snub you at work. Furthermore, if you choose to stop working or to stop following legitimate workplace rules after witnessing discrimination or filing a charge, your employer cannot be charged with discrimination for firing you for this reason.
Steps to File a Discrimination Claim
If you believe you have been discriminated against, you may be able to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or with the Missouri Department of Labor. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws, and the Missouri Department of Labor deals with laws that pertain only in Missouri and certain situations where federal law does not apply.
To file a claim with the EEOC, you must first file a charge with your employer, and you will also need to show you took up the issue with your employer if you hope to file a lawsuit. If your employer does not resolve the complaint, you can then file a charge with the EEOC or the Missouri Department of Labor, depending on who has jurisdiction. Both the EEOC and the Missouri Department of Labor have quick eligibility quizzes on their websites that will allow you to determine which agency you should file with.
Be prepared to provide information about the discrimination you experienced and your employer, including any steps you’ve taken already to address the issue. The EEOC or Missouri Department of Labor will investigate and then notify you of whether you have the right to sue.
Working With an Employee Rights Attorney in Jackson County, Missouri
If you’ve been the victim of discrimination, your rights are protected under federal and state law. If you’re unsure of where you stand, have attempted to file a charge and aren’t sure what’s next, or have gotten your Notice of Right to Sue letter, contact Holman Schiavone, LLC right away for help.