The Employees’ Employment Law Firm
As a Missouri or Kansas employee, you have the right to expect that your work environment will be free from illegal harassment and discriminatory or retaliatory behavior. Any negative job action that is based on race, sex (including gender-based attributes, stereotypes, or physical characteristics), pregnancy, childbirth, age, religion, or disability may be considered illegal employment discrimination or harassment. If you are denied employment rights, limited in some way in your job, or harassed at work based on any of these factors, such conduct is unlawful and does not belong in the workplace.
At Siro Smith Dickson PC we are strong advocates for Missouri and Kansas employee rights. Our Kansas City discrimination lawyers believe that every employee has the right to be free from adverse employment action based on protected criteria. If you are a victim of a discriminatory, harassing, or retaliatory action by an employer, contact our law offices for a free consultation.
While you likely know that employment discrimination and harassment are illegal, not all unfair and differential treatment of employees by employers is unlawful. In fact, it may be difficult to challenge an adverse employment action as the law only prohibits discrimination based on certain limited criteria, also known as “protected classes.”
To show an adverse employment action, such as termination of employment, was unlawful discrimination, the employee must show the action was motivated by the employee’s (1) race, color or ethnic (national origin) background, (2) sex (which includes pregnancy and childbirth, gender-based attributes, stereotypes, or physical characteristics), (3) age, (4) religion, or (5) disability.
Additional information on unlawful discrimination can be found on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR), and the Kansas Human Rights Commission (KHRC) websites.
In addition to wrongful termination, discriminatory behavior by an employer can take many forms, including:
- Denial of a promotion based on race, sex, age or disability discrimination, or discrimination based on another protected class
- Demotion based on racial discrimination, gender discrimination, or discrimination against another protected class
- Disciplinary action taken against an individual in a protected class but not taken against others
- Wage reductions or poor performance evaluations
- Unnecessarily forcing employees to perform tasks to which they have a moral or religious objection
- Refusing to provide leave for pregnancy or a medical condition
- Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to a person’s qualifying medical disability
- Wrongful placement on a performance improvement plan or negative job review
- Refusing to provide salary or wage increases that other similar employees receive who are in different classes
- Many other examples of different treatment that impact the terms and conditions of the job
Employers must guard against the inconsistent treatment of employees based on any of the above-protected criteria. If you have been treated unfairly at work as a result of discrimination, we can help you understand your options.
Unlawful Harassment and Sexual Harassment
Many employees find it surprising that not all hostile environments or harassment in the workplace is unlawful. As with unlawful discrimination, in order for it to be illegal, harassment must be based on an employee’s sex, (including gender-based attributes, stereotypes, or physical characteristics), pregnancy or childbirth, age, race, national origin, religion, or disability. Moreover, the conduct at issue must be more than an isolated incident in order to be considered unlawful harassment. Typically, the harassment must be considered either severe or pervasive and ongoing, not a solitary comment in order to be the subject of a lawsuit.
One of the most common forms of harassment in the workplace is sexual harassment. This illegal form of discrimination could involve a supervisor or boss making advances to an employee or requesting sexual favors in exchange for some job benefit. Sexual harassment could also involve inappropriate comments, touching or explicit material by a coworker, manager, supervisor, or even a vendor or customer, that makes your work environment uncomfortable or hostile.
Additional information on unlawful harassment can be found on the EEOC, MCHR, and the KHRC websites or by contacting our attorneys.
Another common problem is being subjected to some type of retaliatory behavior in the workplace. However, as with harassment and discrimination, not all types of retaliation are unlawful. The most common illegal actions involve retaliation against an employee who has expressed concern that she or he is being subjected to discrimination, or who has reported some other type of possible illegal action (whistle-blowing).
There are many legal issues to consider in these situations and if you have or are considering making a report of some type of wrongful conduct to your employer, you would be well-advised to discuss the matter with an experienced employment attorney so that you can make sure you report the matter in a way that will provide the most possible legal protection. Likewise, if you have already made a complaint of discrimination or harassment and are experiencing retaliation, it would be a good idea to evaluate the situation with an attorney so you can decide if you have a claim, or possibly need to make a further complaint of retaliation or unlawful conduct.
Evaluating Your Situation
As the Missouri and Kansas Courts have rightly noted, it is only the rarest employer who will admit that they based an employment decision on prohibited criteria or an individual’s status as a protected class member. More commonly, an employer will tell an employee one reason for an employment decision (for example, poor performance or a job elimination) but the real reason for the decision is based on one of the prohibited criteria. Sometimes, the employer is vague about the reason for its decision or gives no reason, both of which may be a way to conceal the unlawful reason or mask the discrimination. Because of this, most employment discrimination cases are proved using circumstantial evidence, so you should not assume you do not have a case simply because no direct evidence or “smoking gun” showing discrimination exists.
If you believe you were treated unfairly and in violation of company policies, it is best to discuss your situation with an employment discrimination and retaliation attorney in order to assess whether you have a case that can be pursued.
If you believe a decision was made with respect to your employment because of one of the above-prohibited criteria, Siro Smith Dickson’s experienced employment attorneys can assist in uncovering whether the real reason for the decision was unlawful. We thoroughly investigate the actions your employer has taken against you in the past as well as how your employer treated other employees.
At Siro Smith Dickson PC, our experienced discrimination, retaliation, and harassment lawyers represent clients who have been the victim of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, or other illegal workplace actions. We have extensive experience with a variety of employment laws, including:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act, as Amended (ADAAA)
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
- 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (Title VII)
- 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Section 1983)
- 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Section 1981)
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act
- The Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA)
- The Kansas Act Against Discrimination (KAAD)
- Kansas and Missouri common law of torts or wrongful discharge
- State and Federal Whistle-blower protections
Employment Law Practice Areas
- Sexual Harassment
- Wrongful Discharge
- Hostile Work Environment
- Disability Leave and Accommodation
- Wage Theft
- Family & Medical Leave
- Class Action Investigations
- Severance Agreements
If you feel you have been harmed by illegal discrimination, retaliation, or harassment in the workplace, contact an experienced employment attorney at Siro Smith Dickson PC for a free consultation.