When celebrities, athletes and people in high-profile positions assert their rights, the media often jumps to attention to find every angle to explore. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as putting topics on the public agenda can bring awareness and open discussion concerning important issues. In recent weeks, two stories of oppression and harassment have been making waves in traditional and social media outlets throughout the country (and beyond.)
Anyone who has faced mistreatment or abuse from a coworker or boss knows the lasting emotional harm that can result. If you think you're being bullied or harassed at work, it's a good idea to talk to your human resources department right away to try to improve the situation. But if the situation is getting bad enough that you're wondering about legal action, it's important to know the difference between bullying - which isn't usually illegal, except in rare extreme cases - and harassment, which can be illegal if it's on the basis of your membership in a protected class.
Federal law has prohibited sexual harassment in the workplace for decades. However, harassment continues to be a problem in many work environments throughout the Kansas City area. You may understand that an employer cannot request sexual favors from a worker in exchange for career advancement. Unwelcome sexual advances also constitute unlawful conduct in the workplace.
Everyone deserves to be treated fairly in their place of work and, indeed, in their day-to-day lives. Sadly, as many residents of Missouri know, all too many people do not receive the respect and fair treatment they deserve. In particular, a large number of employees experience harassment or discrimination at the hands of their employers, colleagues or both. This is unacceptable, yet it is often a difficult problem to tackle.
The Missouri House passed a bill on April 9 tightening restrictions around employment discrimination lawsuits and protection of whistleblowers. Workers in Missouri must demonstrate that discrimination was a contributing factor in how they were treated at work, but the bill proposes that the standard be changed to a motivating factor. The bill also narrows the definition of and requirements for a whistleblower and limits the ability of whistleblowers to sue for discrimination.
St. Charles County announced on April 3 that it agreed to settle with former and current employees who filed a lawsuit claiming unfair treatment by the county's elections director. Although he agreed to the settlement, the director continued to deny the accusations and claimed that he was not involved in any wrongdoing.
Missourians, like others elsewhere around the country, can experience discrimination in the workplace. While illegal, old prejudices die hard and these situations still occur. It can be very helpful to the worker to know ways to identify these negative incidents that affect both an employee's performance and morale.