As an employee in Missouri, you have a fundamental right to a safe and fair work environment. Knowing your rights under federal and Missouri employment law empowers you to navigate the workplace with confidence and address any potential concerns proactively; and if you have questions about your situation, you should always contact a Jackson County, Missouri employment lawyer as soon as possible.
10 Rights You Have as an Employee Under Existing Employment Law
Right to a Safe Workplace
Every employee is entitled to a safe working environment. This right is enforced primarily by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which sets and enforces standards to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. Employers are required to uphold these standards, which include providing proper training, equipment, and a workplace free from industry recognized hazards.
If you believe your workplace is unsafe, you have the right to file a complaint with OSHA without fear of retaliation. Moreover, employers cannot penalize or discriminate against employees who exercise their right to a safe workplace.
Right to Fair Compensation
Missouri law mandates that employees receive fair compensation for their work. This includes compliance with minimum wage laws and overtime pay. The minimum wage in Missouri is set at $12.30 per hour as of January 2024, and this is subject to change annually.
Furthermore, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of one and a half times their regular rate for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. It’s important to note that not all employees are eligible for overtime pay; exemptions include certain administrative, executive, and professional employees. If you are concerned about your compensation rights, a detailed review of your employment contract can help, and an employment lawyer can assist here, too.
Right to Non-Discrimination
Both federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace. This means that an employer cannot make employment decisions based on your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. In Missouri, additional protections may apply, such as against discrimination based on marital status or ancestry.
If you face discrimination, you have the right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR). These agencies investigate complaints and can take action against employers who violate anti-discrimination laws or issue you with a “right to sue” notice.
Right to Privacy
Employees in Missouri have a right to a certain level of privacy in the workplace. This includes the privacy of their personal belongings, non-work telephone conversations, and mail. However, this right is not absolute. Employers can monitor activities and communications in the workplace to a certain extent, especially if they have a legitimate business reason to do so.
For example, an employer can and may monitor emails and internet usage that takes place on company-owned devices, and there are some employers, particularly in the financial sector, who are required by law to do due diligence to ensure employees are not engaging in illegal or unethical conduct.
It’s important to understand your employer’s privacy policies to comprehend the exact scope of your privacy rights at work. If you have any questions, talk to an employment legal expert in Jackson County, Missouri.
Right to Family and Medical Leave
Eligible employees are covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This federal law allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain family and medical reasons without fear of losing their job. Reasons for leave include the birth and care of a newborn child, adoption, personal or family illness, or family military leave.
During FMLA leave, your job is protected, and your employer must maintain your health benefits. To be eligible, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months and for a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of leave.
Right to Reasonable Accommodation for Disability
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Missouri law, employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations in the workplace. This means that if you have a disability, your employer is required to provide necessary adjustments or modifications to enable you to perform your job duties effectively, as long as these accommodations do not cause undue hardship to the employer.
Examples of reasonable accommodations include modifying work schedules, adjusting training materials, providing assistive technology, or making the workplace accessible. It’s essential to communicate with your employer about your needs to ensure that appropriate accommodations are made, however, and in some cases (especially with smaller employers) accommodations may not be financially feasible.
Right to a Harassment-Free Workplace
Harassment, especially when it becomes pervasive or severe enough to create a hostile work environment, is prohibited in workplaces by both federal and state laws. This includes unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. Sexual harassment, a common form of workplace harassment, involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
If you’re experiencing harassment, it’s important to report it to your employer or the appropriate authorities, if it is safe to do so. Unless you can show that safety is a real concern, you must take this step before you’ll be allowed to bring a lawsuit for harassment. If you have any questions, talk to a lawyer.
Right to Engage in Protected Concerted Activities
Employees have the right to engage in “protected concerted activities” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This includes the right to form, join, or assist a union; bargain collectively; and engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection. You also have the right to discuss your salary with other employees and do things like hand out leaflets or circulate petitions, so long as they pertain to your working conditions.
It’s equally important to remember that employees have the right to refrain from engaging in any of these activities. It is illegal for employers to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of these rights. Essentially, you have the right to discuss unionizing; you also have the right to have nothing to do with a union. The key is that it be entirely your choice either way.
Right to Be Free from Retaliation
Employees are protected from retaliation for exercising their rights under employment laws. This means that employers cannot punish you for filing a good-faith complaint, participating in an investigation, or asserting your rights under laws like the ADA, FMLA, EEOC, and others.
Retaliation can include demotion, reduction in salary, job or shift reassignment, or even termination. If you believe you have been retaliated against, it’s important to seek legal advice to understand your options and protect your rights.
Right to Time Off for Voting and Jury Duty
Employers must provide employees with time off to vote on election days if their work schedules do not allow for sufficient time outside of working hours. Additionally, you are entitled to time off for jury duty without fear of losing your job.
These rights provide a framework for fair and equitable treatment in the workforce. If you find your rights being violated or have questions about what your rights are, contact us at Holman Schiavone, LLC right away for help.