The answer is “Yes” if your start-up has progressed far enough along to have hired six (6) employees. The Missouri Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) makes it illegal to discriminate in any aspect of employment, including tangible employment actions, because of an individual’s race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability or age (between the ages of 40 through 69).  Under the MHRA, an employer is “a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has six or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.”  This means as your startup succeeds in growing, you must be aware of the 6-employee rule and the impact on your business if you violate the MHRA. 
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In the wake of the #MeToo Movement, New York, California and a number of other jurisdictions, both local and state, have passed new laws aimed at combatting sexual harassment in the workplace. The New York laws require written sexual harassment prevention policy, assurance that all current and new employees, and even applicants for employment, receive a copy of the policy, and mandate annual sexual harassment training for all employees. In addition, New York law now provides that employers can be liable for sexual harassment of nonemployees in the workplace, such as contractors, vendors and subcontractors. Recent legislation prohibits employers from using mandatory arbitration provisions in employment contracts or nondisclosure agreements except when this is the victim preference. Let me suggest that there are some important lessons to be learned from these laws.
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brockhoert_leslie cockerham_stephenMore and more it seems disputes are occurring over what information the EEOC may subpoena from employers. On April 3, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in McLane Co. v. EEOC, weighing in on the standard of review on appeal when district courts either enforce or quash an EEOC subpoena.

Before discussing the case, let’s first address how we get to an appeal of such an issue:


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Labor OfficeOn June 14, 2016, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published its final rule substantially revising the sex discrimination guidelines for federal contractors and subcontractors. The new rule brings the sex discrimination guidelines implemented in 1970 “from the ‘Mad Men’ era to the modern era.”

The final rule applies to any business or organization that (1) holds a single federal contract, subcontract or federally assisted construction contract in excess of $10,000; (2) has federal contracts or subcontracts that, combined, total in excess of $10,000 in any 12-month period; or (3) holds government bills of lading, serves as a depository of federal funds, or is an issuing and paying agency for U.S. savings bonds and notes in any amount.


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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have once again teamed up to coordinate efforts in enforcing a federal air carrier safety law. airportThese agencies recently released a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the purpose of which “is to facilitate coordination and cooperation concerning the protection of employees who provide air safety information under . . . 49 U.S.C. § 42121,” the whistleblower protection provision of the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21).  This agreement replaces a previous MOU between the agencies dated March 22, 2002, but the agencies’ other previous MOU, from August 26, 2014, remains intact.

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truckingOn November 30, 2015 the DOT issued its final rule prohibiting coercion of commercial drivers, which expands the current whistle-blowing provisions jointly administered by the Department of Labor and the Department of Transportation via a Memo of Understanding issued last year. The main point of expansion is that now a covered driver is protected not only from discharge, discipline or discrimination for engaging in certain protected activities (focusing on safety regulations issued for this industry), but it now includes “coercion” of such drivers not only as to safety violations, but also as to any violations of commercial regulations that would apply to “motor carriers, shippers, receivers or transportation intermediaries.” The regulations are quite vague regarding what “coercion” shall consist of, stating the DOT will investigate any “non-frivolous” claim that a motor carrier, shipper, receiver or transportation intermediary, or their respective agents, officers, or representatives, have threatened to or actually withheld business, employment or work opportunities from, or taken any adverse employment action against, a driver in order to induce the driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle under conditions in which the driver would be required to violate one or more of the regulations that are codified within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

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In its 1984 decision in Hansome, the Missouri Supreme Court required an “exclusive causal connection” between the employee’s exercise of rights under the workers’ compensation statute and the adverse action the employee challenged.  No more.  Today, the Missouri Supreme Court swept Hansome aside and concluded the employee need only show that his exercise of rights under the workers’ compensation statute was a “contributing factor” to the adverse action. 
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