Ask an Employment Lawyer: 9 Frequently Asked Questions

Employment

An employment lawyer is a professional who can help you protect your rights as a worker. Missouri workers’ rights are protected under Title VII and the Missouri Human Rights Act. If you believe that you were a victim of a worker’s right violation, you should immediately contact an attorney to understand your options.  

Ask an Employment Lawyer: 9 Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Constitute Valid Reasons for Employment Termination?

Missouri’s employment laws are “at-will,” which means that your employer does not need a valid reason to fire you. However, if you are fired due to discriminatory practices or if you had a contract that stated a specific duration, you may be able to file a wrongful termination claim. Kansas City employment lawyers can review your documentation and recommend a strategy. 

2. If I’m Fired, When Will I Get My Final Paycheck?

If an audit is not necessary (because you were not in charge of stock or merchandise) and if you don’t work on commission, your employer is required to pay all unpaid wages when you are fired. If you are not immediately paid, you must request payment in writing, and the employer must comply within seven days.

3. Am I Eligible For Unemployment Benefits?

To access unemployment benefits in Missouri, you’ll need to prove that you quit your job for a valid reason or lost your job to no fault of your own. You’ll also need to make at least 1.5 times the taxable wage base during two of the four base period quarters. Additionally, you must be available for full-time work. Remember that you should always be truthful in your claims, as the Labor Board will verify everything.  

4. What Constitutes Workplace Harassment?

Discriminatory Harassment in the workplace constitutes any practice that creates a hostile environment for an individual because of their race, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, religious beliefs, or disabilities. Protection against workplace harassment is guaranteed under the Missouri Human Rights Act. 

5. Are Employers Required to Have Worker’s Insurance?

Workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory for businesses with five or more employees in Missouri. In the case of the construction industry, insurance is compulsory, starting with one employee. Knowingly failing to provide worker’s insurance is considered a class A misdemeanor, and a subsequent violation constitutes a class E felony.  

If your employer has not offered information regarding your insurance situation, you should report it to the Division of Workers’ Compensation. 

6. What Is the Second Injury Fund?

Funded by a surcharge paid by employers, the second injury fund covers the medical expenses of individuals whose work-related injuries and prior disabilities create an increased combined disability. This fund can also cover death-related costs of uninsured workers, including funeral expenses and benefit payments to a spouse or dependants (only when awarded by a judge). The Second Injury Fund can also help an employee cover medical costs if the employer fails to provide insurance.

7. What Can I Do if I Am Sexually Harassed?

Sexual harassment alludes to any conduct, sexual in nature, that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment. Sending pictures with sexual connotations, lewd jokes, requests for sexual favors, and unwanted touching are all examples of workplace sexual harassment. If you are a victim of sexual harassment, you need legal counsel. Depending on your particular situation, you’ll need to start by filing an internal complaint and follow up with a complaint with the Missouri Department of Labor. 

8. What Is an Employer Required to Do After a Harassment Complaint?

If you complain about harassment, your employer is required by law to conduct an investigation and establish remedial actions to end the harassment. Corrective actions may include changes in policies, disciplinary actions, additional training, warnings, and terminations. If your employer does not take action to address your complaint, you need to follow up with the Department of Labor.

9. How Can I Find a Good Employment Attorney?

Finding a good lawyer to help you with a work-related case starts with due diligence. You can begin by asking for recommendations, research online and with the Missouri Bar Association, and set up a few meetings. Some attorneys will provide a free initial consultation, where you should ask many questions, such as: 

  • Have you handled (and won) cases similar to mine? 
  • How are your fees calculated? 
  • What evidence do I need to provide? 
  • What’s an expected timeline for my process? 

Remember that a reasonable attorney may be the difference between winning and losing a case, so take your time and make an informed decision. Missouri protects workers against discrimination and harassment and enforces insurance to protect workers’ health. However, proving wrongful actions by an employer is not easy. It requires thorough investigation to acquire valid evidence, compliance with board and court dates, and a deep understanding of labor laws. 

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