Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Unlawful Retaliation In Missouri

When an employee believes that he or she has been a victim of unlawful discrimination in Missouri, and he or she complains about discrimination, that person is protected from the employer retaliating for the complaint. Missouri Retaliation Law  Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, sometimes retaliation seems inevitable.  We hear such maxims as, "Revenge is a dish best served cold" and the Biblical admonition, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."  Without employer intervention, retaliation from a supervisor or manager against whom someone has complained of unlawful discrimination is not uncommon.  In fact, the EEOC has determined that the most frequent complaint of illegal conduct it receives are those of retaliation. 

      So, what is retaliation?   Retaliation can take many forms.  It must be taken or condoned by management.  I will just set forth a partial list of potential retaliatory acts from cases we have had at our law firm:

1.  Firing,
2.  Negative performance reviews,
3.  Suspension with or without pay,
4.  Reduced hours or failure to call back,
5.  Demotion,
6.  Reduced responsibilities or inconvenient transfers,
7.  Pay cuts,
8.  Ridicule, trying to get the person who complained to quit,
9.  Lack of promotion,
10. Bad job references and negative comments to potential future employers. 
  Even though most members of management know it is unlawful to retaliate against someone who lodges a good faith belief of discrimination, it may just be too much to bear without some wrath.  No one easily accepts that he or she has been unfair, least of all those who do in fact discriminate based on race, sex, age or disability.  I have never known one accused of sexual harassment to bear no ill will.  We don't like people telling us we're wrong, let alone that we are prejudiced or sexually inappropriate.  

    When a worker complains of discrimination or harassment, even though protected by the law, that is when he or she is most vulnerable.  Oftentimes employers admonish the member of management to "refrain from retaliation," but with human nature the way it is, that admonition is simply not enough. The employer must insure that retaliation does not happen. 

    Many people, our clients among them, have a very difficult time coping with life at work after complaining of discrimination or harassment.  They feel overly scrutinized, which is often the case. Their former friendly co-workers turn on them, either out of senses of self-preservation, or some misguided loyalty to the harasser.  That's when the real trouble can begin. 

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