The “Show Me” state of Missouri has long been held up as the perfect cross-section of America. Missouri’s two major cities--Kansas City and St. Louis--are balanced demographically and economically by the state’s vast rural swaths. According to a 2008 census estimate, Missouri has over 5.9 million people. Its border with the Mississippi River has made the state a powerful hub of trade, industry, and communications. Prior to the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, Missouri voters had correctly “predicted” the outcome of the U.S. Presidential race correctly all but once over the past century.

Missouri’s economy stands on diverse legs. Missouri produces tremendous amounts of soybeans, pork, chicken, and dairy products. Mining, tourism, communications industries, financial services, and banking industries all contribute to the state’s bottom line.

The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (based out of the capital, Jefferson City) oversees and enforces antidiscrimination protections. The DLIR’s mission involves advocating for both industry and labor in an impartial fashion. The DLIR deals with employment benefits, worker’s compensation, wage and hour issues, workplace safety, mine and cave safety, minimum wage issues, and training. The Department has enforcement authority, and state officers often work with members of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to identify trends in statewide workplace discrimination cases and offer remedies.

Common discrimination cases handled by the DLIR and the EEOC include:

  1. Gender discrimination. Missouri employers may not use gender as a deciding factor in whether or not to hire a candidate, promote an employee, or assign specific duties to a worker.
  2. Disability discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) asserts that any worker with a mental or physical condition limiting a major life function has the right to “reasonable accommodations” – such as altered work schedules or environments – to perform a job for which they are otherwise qualified.
  3. Racial or national origin discrimination. The color of one’s skin or the country in which someone was born should have no bearing on that person's ability to obtain employment and receive respectful and equitable treatment on the job.

Missouri, like many Midwestern states that depend significantly on traditional manufacturing, has seen significant job loss during the recent recession. Some of the layoffs were surely done in “good faith” based strictly on economic realities. Other firings, however, may have been at least partially motivated by discrimination and/or retaliation.

Arguing and proving such employment cases can be challenging; individuals who suspect employers of bad behaviors may be afraid to report them. Some employees fear that former coworkers might get angry or that their own future employment prospects will be damaged. But employers who do not play by the rules set a negative example and must be held accountable.

If you lost a job due to your status as a member of a “protected class,” experienced wage theft or violations, or sustained negative effects due to another illegal employer practice, a local employment lawyer can work with you to determine the best course of action. Find out more about battling back against employer violations today.

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