Category Archives:All Posts

What is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Age discrimination occurs when an employer (or co-worker, supervisor, or another individual at the workplace) discriminates against another person because of his/her age. The discrimination can involve harassment, contributing to a hostile work environment, or it can involve adverse impacts on the victim’s career and prospects, such as hiring/firing, promotion, unfair opportunities for younger workers, and so on.

What is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act | Popham Law

Age discrimination in Missouri workplaces is a violation of federal and state laws, yet it still occurs with frightening frequency. In fact, in 2013, the EEOC received over 21,000 complaints about age discrimination.

For this reason, if you feel that you’re being discriminated against because of your age, call the KC employment law attorneys at Popham Law as soon as possible.

What is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act is one of the most well-known, and used, federal laws in these cases. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in terms of hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, or conditions of employment. This act applies to any employee over 40 years old. In short, an example of a violation of the law would be denying an employee fringe benefits solely because of the employee’s age. It’s important to note that ADEA applies to employers with 20 or more employees.

At the state level, the Missouri Human Rights Acts protects individuals over 40 (and less than 70) from age discrimination. This act applies to employers with 6 or more employees.

Examples of Age Discrimination & Harassment in the Workplace

Discrimination and harassment can either be “in your face” or quite subtle. Either way, it’s important to understand the difference between isolated incidents, violations of law, and actions that wouldn’t be a violation of law. Because every situation is different, you can find confidence and legal expertise and insight by calling a Missouri employment discrimination attorney.

Nevertheless, here are some common examples of what age discrimination and harassment might look like:

  • An individual is asked his/her age at the job interview, and he/she is unsuccessful because the employer said, “We need a more mature person for the role.”
  • An older, 55-year individual applies for a job and the employer asks, “Why do you want this job at this late stage in your life.”
  • An individual is an employee at a shop but is made redundant and replaced by a younger person. The manager reveals that he/she wants a new, “upbeat” feel to the shop in order to attract younger customers.
  • An employee notices that younger employees are receiving training on new equipment. When the employee asks why he/she isn’t getting invited to the training, the employer tells the employee that he/she is getting too old to learn new tricks.

Exceptions to Age Discrimination Protections

It is essential to remember that employers have rights as well, and so there are a few exceptions to the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. These exceptions include:

  • Hiring a person to provide domestic or personal services in a home, including the care, instruction, or supervision of children. For instance, a person of a certain gender and age may be needed to help with toileting, showering, and rehabilitation.
  • The employer discriminates when it is reasonable to protect the physical, psychological, or emotional well-being of children in the employer’s care.
  • Hiring a person of a particular age when age is a genuine occupational requirement, such as drama or artistic performances, photographic or modeling work, or when it’s needed for authenticity or credibility. (Bona fide occupational qualification – BFOQ).
  • Employers that are members of an Indian (Native American) tribe are amongst the excepted employers.

It is important to note that, in Missouri, employers can fire individuals for a wide range of reasons. The business does not violate ADEA as long as it can prove that the individual was fired on other grounds (not age, or any of the protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964).

What to Do If You’re Being Discriminated Against

If you’re being discriminated or harassed at work, then it’s essential to speak up. One problem with age discrimination is that the victims are intimidated and/or fear retaliation; in other cases, it’s just difficult to prove that an employer was discriminating against you because of your age. Furthermore, the 2009 Supreme Court decision, Gross v. FBL. Financial Services, Inc., further restricted age discrimination claims as, because of this case, you (the plaintiff) needs to prove that age was the sole reason for discrimination.

However, there are a few things you can do:

  • File a discrimination claim with the state administrative agency, the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR)
  • File a discrimination claim with the federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Don’t delay in filing your claim, as you must file your claim with the MCHR 180 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against; you have 300 days after the discrimination to file with the EEOC.

Contact the Popham Law Firm for Your Discrimination Attorneys

Victims of age discrimination may be able to recover remedies in the lawsuit, including:

  • Back pay
  • Hiring
  • Promotion
  • Reinstatement
  • Front pay
  • Liquidated damages
  • Payment of attorney fees, expert witness fees, and court costs

If you were discriminated against because of your age in a Missouri or Kansas City workplace, make sure to not hesitate and call the leading KC employment law attorneys at Popham Law. Consultations are always free, so call today at (816) 221-2288.

What to Expect in a Pedestrian Accident Injury Settlement

Pedestrians have rights in Missouri, and when a pedestrian is struck and injured by a negligent driver, that individual may be entitled to compensation to cover his/her medical expenses, loss of work, and other financial damages. When filing a personal injury lawsuit in these cases, one question we at the Popham Law Firm hear is, “What kind of settlement can I expect?”

What to Expect in a Pedestrian Injury Settlement | Popham Law

There are several factors that can indicate the settlement amount, from the severity of the injuries, the costs of medical expenses and other expenses, and the percentage of fault (remember, Missouri recognizes the legal doctrine of “comparative negligence”). If you or a loved one was injured in a pedestrian accident, call the KC personal injury attorneys of Popham Law at (816) 221-2288.

The Personal Injury Process in Missouri

The settlement is an important part of the entire personal injury process. After recovering from the pedestrian accident and filing a lawsuit, it’s important to have as much evidence and documentation as possible to determine what will be an appropriate settlement amount. Remember, you have to cover for current damages as well as those in the future.

The process can be frustrating and stressful. Although every case is different, we’ve listed a few parts of the personal injury process in Missouri:

  • Your pedestrian accident claim. When you bring your case to a personal injury attorney, you’ll discuss the details of the accident, the injuries, and the current damages for which you may be compensated.
  • You may write a demand letter. When moving forward in the claim, you’ll identify the liable parties you feel are responsible for causing the injuries.
    • You and your attorney may send a “demand letter” that explains the reasons why you’re filing the claim, the injuries you’ve sustained from the accident caused by the party’s negligence, and the amount of compensation you may be pursuing.
  • The defendant may agree or negotiate the settlement, such as offering a lower amount in hopes of a compromise. The negotiations may go on for months, and if there is no resolution, the case may go to trial. Sometimes, the case may go through “mediation.”

Knowing the process can help showcase the importance of the settlement throughout the entire process. Although you and your attorney will be working out this estimate together, you should consider some of the key factors when determining the settlement amount.

Key Factors of a Personal Injury Lawsuit Settlement

Below are some key factors that will influence the amount that you can receive in a pedestrian accident lawsuit. These factors include:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The amount of work you missed due to your injuries
  • The nature and extent of medical treatment
  • The impact that your injuries have had on your daily life and routine
  • The prospects for a full recovery
  • Whether or not you had any role in the fault
  • Lost future opportunities attributed to your injuries
  • The impact your injuries will have on your future earning capacity

Insurance Adjusters and Your Settlement

Like many other states, Missouri follows the legal doctrine of “comparative negligence.” In short, this just means that fault is divided by the amount of negligence both parties played in the accident.

For instance, imagine you were crossing the crosswalk looking at your phone. A car isn’t paying attention either and hits you. While the car was mostly at fault for not respecting the pedestrian’s lawful right to cross the crosswalk, the pedestrian may be given a small percentage of the fault, as he/she also wasn’t paying attention.

You’re suing the other party for $10,000 in damages. The insurance adjuster found the other party at 90% fault, and you at 10% fault. Your share of the fault (10%) reduces the amount of available settlement respectfully. The maximum available, in this example, would be $9,000.

Call the KC Injury Attorneys at Popham Law Today

A pedestrian accident can present serious injuries, and it’s important to look at those injuries, consider if the other party was negligent and at fault for the injuries, and what you can do about it. After taking care of your injuries, one of the first things to do is contact the KC personal injury attorneys at Popham Law. Consultations are always free, so call us today at (816) 221-2288.

IT’S A LOT EASIER TO BREAK THE LAW IF NO ONE IS WATCHING

Remember Enron?  I know, some of you weren’t born in 2001, but it was a big deal back then.  Here’s the story in a nutshell.  Enron Corporation was a Houston energy company, formed in 1985.  Through a number of tax loopholes and questionable accounting, Enron was able to hide billions of dollars in debt from its shareholders.  When the stuff hit the fan, Enron’s stock plummeted from a mid-2000 high of $90.75 a share to less than $1.00 per share in November 2001.  Lawsuits followed, and some Enron executives actually went to jail.  Shareholders literally lost billions of dollars, and their accounting firm, Arthur Anderson, essentially dissolved.  Who knows how many lives wEnronere changed forever – some went to jail, but hundreds of innocent people lost their jobs and their savings.

If only someone on the inside had blown the whistle sooner.

Around the same time, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, right here in Missouri, was preparing an “initial public offering” – an “IPO.”   Thomas Dunn started as an accountant for Enterprise, and eventually became the company’s comptroller.  Among other things, it was his job to certify that the company was following appropriate accounting procedures – something investors in an IPO think is pretty darned important.  You can read the entire story in the Missouri Appellate Court opinion, Dunn v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company, 170 S.W.3d 1 (Mo. App. E.D. 2005), but the short version is that Dunn was the whistleblower that Enron needed.  He warned the Enterprise executives about the deficient accounting practices, and told them the Securities and Exchange Commission would require different reporting.  This caused a delay in the IPO, and the company’s officers were not happy.  Dunn was fired on January 4, 2001.

Dunn sued, and a jury awarded him $4,000,000.00.  Enterprise never forgot.

Ever since, big money in Missouri has tried to protect corporations like Enterprise from whistleblowers.

That’s right – corporations like Enron and Enterprise don’t want people to know when they cheat.

Among many other problems with SB 43 (see my earlier blogs), the bill eliminates all protection for people whose very job it is to report when their employer has broken the law.  In a special section of the bill – ironically titled the “Whistleblower’s Protection Act” – big corporate interests have finally gotten what they paid for.  An employee has no protection if the “unlawful act or serious misconduct reported concerns matters upon which the employee is employed to report or provide professional opinion.”  In other words, if it is their job – as it was Dunn’s job at Enterprise – to report accounting fraud, and he reports it, he has no protection.  Heroes like Dunn are supposed to keep their heads down and their mouths shut, if they know what’s good for them.

SB 43 has passed in the Missouri Senate, but it still must be passed in the House.  Is this what we want in Missouri?  Big corporations buying laws that allow them to cheat?  Call your representatives and let them know how you feel!

Traumatic Brain Injury and Your Options in KC

Brain injury from a traumatic accident is a major cause of disability in the United States. Every year, over 1.4 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and an average of 50,000 people die while 23,000 survive, but must be hospitalized. Car accidents and slips and falls are major causes of TBI. Although some accidents are unavoidable and unpredictable, others are the result of a person’s negligence.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Your Options in KC | Popham Law Attorneys

If you or a loved one was injured due to a traumatic brain injury, it’s essential to seek legal action with the help of the top-rated personal injury attorneys in Kansas City MO. With the help of your personal injury attorneys at Popham Law, we’ll diligently investigate the circumstances of the case, counsel you through the legal process, and provide aggressive, yet professional, representation.

For a free, no-obligation consultation with our personal injury attorneys, call the Popham Law Firm today at (816) 221-2288.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury is usually caused by a sudden impact to the head; even whiplash could be enough to rattle the brain and cause injury. A moderate brain injury is defined as a loss of consciousness for 20 minutes to 6 hours and a Glasgow Coma Scale of 9 to 12. A severe injury occurs when the loss of consciousness lasts longer than 6 hours, and there’s a Glasgow Coma Scale of 3 to 8.

Some other symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can include:

  • Deficits with attention, concentration, memory, language processing, and more
  • Problems with speech and language, including reading and writing
  • Difficulties with interpretation of touch, temperature, movement, etc
  • Partial to total loss of vision
  • Decrease or loss of hearing
  • Loss of diminished sense of smell and taste
  • Seizures associated with epilepsy
  • Physical paralysis/spasticity
  • Adverse emotional behavior

A victim of TBI can suffer from many symptoms, and it’s always important to see a medical professional after an accident. A diagnosis of TBI will be a fundamental piece of evidence when filing a personal injury lawsuit.

The Legal Options of a TBI

A TBI can pose serious consequences for victims. Even if you fully recover, you may still have to live with this life-changing injury. If the accident that led to the brain injury was caused by another person’s negligence, however, you can file a personal injury claim and seek compensation for the damages that this injury presents.

To know if you have a case, you should always have an experienced personal injury attorney review your case’s details.

Compensation for TBI

By filing a personal injury lawsuit based on the other party’s negligent actions that caused your TBI, you are seeking compensation to cover the financial damages that such an injury can pose. Some types of compensation can include:

  • Victims of a traumatic brain injury may require extensive treatment, including surgery, lengthy hospital stays, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, mental health counseling, and so on. As such, an attorney will help you fight for compensation for both present and future medical costs.
  • Additionally, victims of TBI often have to take off work for days, weeks, and sometimes months. A personal injury lawsuit may seek compensation for lost wages.
  • Because TBI can disrupt your life, victims in these cases often ask for compensation that covers their pain and suffering.

Brain injury settlements tend to be higher than other personal injury settlements due to the severity of these injuries.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

In Missouri, a personal injury lawsuit can only be filed within the first 5 years after the accident or incident occurred. After this statute of limitations, you may be unable to file a suit and litigate to recover damages from the injury. In order to be successful in your personal injury case, you and your attorney will need to prove:

  • You have a brain injury,
  • Your injury was not pre-existing, and
  • Your injury resulted from the reckless or negligent actions of another person or entity

Proving negligence also means showing that the defendant caused the incident or failed to prevent it from happening. Nevertheless, due to Missouri’s comparative fault laws, if you contributed to the accident, the percentage of your involve will be considered regarding the overall settlement.

Contact the Popham Law Firm Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one was injured or killed due to a traumatic brain injury, one of the first things to do (after getting the necessary medical care) it to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable Kansas City personal injury attorney. By calling our law firm, our attorneys will carefully listen to your case and interests, investigate the circumstances of the case and build evidence, and vigorously litigate and/or negotiate for a full and reasonable settlement. For a free consultation about your case, call Popham Law in Kansas City today at (816) 221-2288.

How to Know If You’ve Been a Victim of Employment Discrimination in Kansas City

Discrimination is far from eradicated, and employment discrimination occurs in Kansas City workplaces when an employer treats a qualified applicant or employee less favorably merely because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or status as a protected veteran.

How to Know If You’re a Victim of Employment Discrimination in KC

If you believe that you’re the victim of discrimination, one of the first steps you should take is to contact a Kansas City discrimination lawyer. Consultations are free, and we can discuss your situation and whether or not you have a case. Call us today at (816) 221-2288.

Understanding Employment Discrimination in Kansas City MO

Discrimination and harassment can be hard to spot at times, while in other circumstances it is as clear as day. When something at work doesn’t go well, such as a firing or the loss of promotion, it can be tempting to jump to the conclusion that you were the victim of discrimination. You may very well be the victim of discrimination. Either way, it’s important to step back, look at the situation, and understand the case from a legal point of you.

There are several federal and Missouri laws making discrimination in the workplace an illegal act. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is perhaps the most well-known law protecting workers from discrimination on the bases of race and color, as well as national origin, sex, and religion. This law applies to any employer in Missouri with 15 or more employees. It is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The Missouri Human Rights Act has the same protections, but it only applies to employers with six or more employees.

Examples of Employment Discrimination in Kansas City MO

Employment discrimination can painfully clear just as easily as it can be subtle. Additionally, it is important to remember that anti-discrimination laws do have limits. For instance, they do not protect individuals against foolish, rash, harsh, ridiculous, or generally unfair employment decisions. Missouri is also employment-at-will, and employers can terminate employees at any time (unless there’s a specific contract that details time).

In general, employment discrimination is coupled with an adverse employment decision, such as firing/hiring, promotion/demotion, unfair wages and/or benefits, unfair opportunities for growth, and so on. To get a better idea of what employment discrimination looks like, we’ve included several examples below:

  • Race — A person applies for a job. When the person calls the manager to ask why he/she didn’t get the job, the manager says, “We’ve employed people from your country before; you don’t share the same work ethic.”
  • Color — Same situation as above, but the manager says, “We don’t employ black or brown people.”
  • Religion — The manager refuses to hire a person because he/she is an Orthodox Jew. Examples can also include firing a Muslim because he/she missed work to attend religious holidays, and transferring a Rastafarian to a different department with less public contact because of the Rastafarian’s dreadlocks.
  • Sex — A woman isn’t hired because the manager says “the company’s clients prefer relating with men.” Another example could include getting laid off, while men in the same job and with less seniority get to keep their jobs.
  • National origin — An Arab is harassed for practicing Islam; a Mexican is paid less than other workers. Another example can occur when a Chinese person isn’t hired because the employer thought he/she was Vietnamese (this is still national origin discrimination).
  • Disability — An employer requires employees to take a medical exam, or disclose past or current medical conditions. Failing to provide reasonable accommodation for the disabled person’s needs.

Harassment and workplace retaliation are also unlawful activities in the workplace. In short, if you are being harassed based on your protected status, to the point where the workplace seems like a hostile work environment, then you may have a case. Additionally, if you are the victim of retaliation for reporting discrimiination, you may also have a case.

Ways to Prove That You’re a Victim of Discrimination

Workplace discrimination can be difficult to prove, and perhaps the best piece of advice is to contact an experienced discrimination attorney, or at least talk to a trusted non-work friend or family member. Also, try to document the discrimination in the most comprehensive way possible. Write discriminatory comments down, including the date, the time, and any witnesses. Also consider documenting emails, performance reviews, and any other materials or other things that could be used as evidence.

Contact the Employment Law Attorneys at Popham Law

At Popham Law in Kansas City, we’ve helped many clients with their workplace discrimination cases, and we have the resources and courtroom experience to help you too. If you believe that you were (or are!) the victim of workplace discrimination, it’s essential not to hesitate and contact the Popham Law Firm today. Remember, anti-discrimination statutes have a clock on them.

Call today at (816) 221-2288.

AT A TIME WHEN WE DESPERATELY NEED TO MOVE FORWARD, WE ARE BACKING UP

By Bert Braud, The Popham Law Firm

Discrimination is real, folks, and it’s on the front pages of the newspaper.  We saw its ugliness recently in a St. Louis cemetery (an act copied this week in Philadelphia).  Jewish community centers are receiving bomb threats.  Our neighbors to the west, in the Kansas City suburb of Olathe, saw Bert Braudthe horror of discrimination in the killing of one man and wounding of another, based solely on the color of their skin.

Those incidents didn’t happen on the job, but they are rooted in the evil of discrimination.  And the same evil appears in the workplace.  I currently represent two African American men who were exposed to a noose hanging at work.  My colleagues and I in the National Employment Lawyers Association see it every day.

And instead of moving forward, protecting the hard workers of Missouri who just want to do their jobs, the Missouri Legislature is backing up.  We should be making it harder to discriminate, not easier!

Yesterday, the Missouri Senate began debating SB 43, a bill that makes drastic changes to the Missouri Human Rights Act (the MHRA).  For more detail on the specific changes, scroll down the Blogs page at www.pophamlaw.com.  Here are the highlights (discrimination comes in many shapes, but I’ll use a job termination of a disabled person in the examples below):

  • The burden of proof will be harder. Instead of discrimination contributing to the decision to terminate, the new standard will be that the termination was “because of” the employee’s disability.  That means that an employer who can come up with any other reason is not liable for discrimination.  It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to create a non-discriminatory reason.
  • Personal responsibility is gone. The new law would totally excuse the individual wrongdoer, no matter how ugly or vile his conduct.  This change protects someone who, for example, mocks or makes fun of a person with a disability.
  • Decades old caps on damages – taken from Federal Law – will be imposed on the victims of discrimination. Ironic, isn’t it?  Just last week Missouri Senator Will Kraus echoed the sentiment of many in the chamber, when speaking about the Real ID law: “I’m tired of federal overreach.”  Apparently, “federal overreach” doesn’t apply here, because in addition to the caps from federal law, the bill wants to make our own State Supreme Court ignore its past decisions and follow decisions from Federal Court instead.
  • Whistleblowers – who risk their careers to protect others – can barely recover at all.

When Rod Chapel, President of the Missouri NAACP, testified against a similar bill in the Missouri House on February 13, Committee Chairman Bill Lant cut him off, shutting down his microphone.  Rod accurately called the legislation a return to “Jim Crow” laws.

Sadly, he’s right.  We are backing up.  Please contact your representative and tell them we want to move forward, not backwards.

Why Hire a Kansas City Mediator?

When caught in the middle of a dispute with another person, or with a company or entity, it may seem like dashing down to the courtside and filing a lawsuit is the only option available. Fortunately, for the sake of overworked courts, your wallet, and more, there are other options available to individuals caught in a legal dispute. One such option is mediation, which is basically the process of bringing two parties together with a third-party mediator to resolve disputes.

Why Hire a Kansas City Mediator | Popham Law

In fact, mediation serves as an effective, budget-friendly, and time-friendly method of resolving disputes without ever needing to go to court. Additionally, mediation can be a way to save relationships in the midst of these disputes, as it’s the job of the mediator to develop effective communications and build consensus between the parties.

At Popham Law in Kansas City, we are experienced mediators who have successfully helped resolve hundreds of disputes, from employment law disputes to personal injury cases, and more. If you are in a dispute and desire mediation to help resolve it, call our law firm today by dialing (816) 221-2288.

Where Mediation Works

As mentioned above, mediation is a process where an objective third-party assists in resolving a dispute between two parties. Unlike arbitration, where the intermediary makes a decision for the disputants, mediators provide an environment and assist disputants to come up with a solution itself.

As such, due to its versatility and inherent benefits, mediation is used in all sorts of disputes, from divorces to civil lawsuits to complex policy problems. In general, when initial attempts at negotiation fail, mediation serves as a cost- and time-effective conflict resolution tool. For instance, some specific cases where mediation can be helpful include:

For the most part, all non-criminal legal disputes can be resolved via mediation.

How Mediation Works

Mediation is widely known as a very effective process, as the mediator’s role is to create a more productive, results-oriented discussion than the parties could have conducted on their own. To help produce such results, the mediator will:

  • Help the parties determines facts
  • Show empathy and impartiality with the parties
  • Help the parties generate new ideas

Furthermore, an experienced mediator will use persuasion to soften the more hard-line positions. In some cases, the conflict is discussed over several joint sessions. In most cases, however, private caucuses serve as the guts of the mediation process, where parties can discuss, in private, the dispute. During private caucuses, the mediators are able to gather more information, negotiate, and help build a consensus.

Why Mediation Works as a Dispute Resolution Tool

Because mediation facilitates communication, it has numerous benefits. Perhaps the most prominent benefit is the emphasis on maintaining the relationship after the dispute is over. Other benefits of mediation include:

  • Less expensive than traditional litigation
  • Less time-consuming than traditional litigation (faster settlements)
  • Mutually satisfactory outcomes
  • High rate of compliance
  • Greater degree of control and predictability of the outcome
  • Personal empowerment
  • Workable and implementable decisions
  • Longer lasting decisions (reduced future conflict)

Contact the KC Mediators at Popham Law Today

Mediation is widely preferred over traditional litigation for many reasons, but to concentrate its benefits, mediation saves time, it saves money, and it can save your relationship with the other party while implementing a mutually agreed upon settlement.

If you are looking for some of the leading mediators in the Kansas City area, look no further than Popham Law. For a free consultation, you can call our law firm today at (816) 221-2288.

MISSOURI LEGISLATURE IS OKAY WITH “A LITTLE DISCRIMINATION”

Almost every corporation large enough to publish an employee handbook puts this in writing:  “This corporation has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”  Zero tolerance.  That means none.  Every human resource official will tell you that discrimination of any kind at any level should not be allowed.  And that’s the way it should be, right?

Not according to legislators in Missouri, who are actively trying to roll back civil rights laws in our State to allow for some level of discrimination.

How’s that, you say?  Are they putting that in a statute?

Yes, they are – by redefining discrimination and making it much harder for employees to prove discrimination.  Currently, an employee who is fired, for example, for needing Sunday off to attend church services, is required to prove to a jury that his religion was a “contributing factor” to the termination decision.  If that person’s faith and attendance requirements are any part of the decision –even if the boss can come up with other reasons – a jury can find in that person’s favor.  In other words, Missouri law today has zero tolerance for discrimination.

That will change if current proposed legislation is passed into law and signed by the Governor.  Members of both the Missouri House and Senate have introduced bills that make the standard higher than “contributing factor.”  For example, one bill (SB 43 introduced by Senator Romine) changes the burden so that the decision to terminate was “because of” the person’s religion.  The religion has to be a “motivating” factor.

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The author in Joplin, working on homes after the tornado

Let’s go back to my example, if this bill passes.  Suppose a practicing Christian tells his employer that he has to honor the Sabbath and refrain from work on Sunday, or just be allowed to attend church services on Sunday.  His boss can fire him and claim some other reason was the “motivating factor.”  The boss can even admit that the religious beliefs played a part in the decision to fire him so long as the boss claims some other reason was involved.

That’s not zero tolerance.  That says, “We in Missouri are willing to tolerate a little bit of discrimination.”

Why would Senator Romine propose such a bill?  The answer may be his own experience.  He owns a company called Show Me Rent to Own.  As of today, there is a lawsuit pending in Scott County against Show Me Rent to Own.  In that lawsuit, it is alleged that a supervisor for Show Me Rent to Own told an employee to “quit acting like a n*****” and that “black people are the worst to rent to.”  When the employee reported this conduct to HR, he was told that Senator Romine would be informed, but there was nothing she could do about it.  Months later he was fired.  The reason?  He used profanity at work – something the non-minority employees did routinely without discipline.

Understand, these are allegations in a lawsuit, and a jury has not yet heard the case.  But under today’s law, if the jury believed the employee’s race contributed to his firing, he could win.  Zero tolerance.  But if Senator Romine’s bill becomes law, he can tell the jury that profanity at work was the “motivating factor.”  In other words, it’s okay to use horribly racist language.  We’ll tolerate that.  But we draw the line at profanity.

Call your Representative and Senator.  Tell your Representative you oppose HB550, 552 and 676, and tell your Senator you oppose SB 43.

No Holiday Overtime? Know When to Call a Kansas City Employment Attorney

Disputes in the workplace are as old as time, and although it’s unfortunate, frustrating, and anger-inducing, workplace problems still occur, such as unpaid hours, unpaid overtime, discrimination, and sexual harassment, among others. It is important to note that many workplaces throughout Missouri have specific and well-detailed channels for filing complaints, but when the complaint fails, you may need to contact a Kansas City employment attorney.

Know When to Call an Employment Attorney | Popham Law

At Popham Law in downtown Kansas City, our employment lawyers boast years of experience helping individuals just like you through a variety of employment law issues, from discrimination cases to complex wage-hour disputes. If you are in the middle of a dispute with your employer, and it’s reaching the lawsuit stage, then don’t hesitate and call the employment law attorneys at KC’s Popham Law today.

Do You Need an Employment Attorney in Kansas City?

The moment you find yourself in a dispute, whether due to discrimination, harassment, contract disputes, or other employment law issues, you may be wondering, “Do I need an employment attorney for this?” In general, an employment attorney deals with the following issues:

  • Mistreatment by an employer
  • Wrongful termination
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Discussion of wages/benefits
  • Discrimination/harassment

Before calling your attorney, however, you should check with your HR department to see if it has protocols, policies, or procedures for handling certain legal compliance situations. In many cases, you will have to exhaust all administrative possibilities before you’re able to file a lawsuit.

When You Might Need a Kansas City Employment Attorney

There are many situations when you absolutely, positively need a Kansas City employment attorney. In fact, if the following situations happen to you, call your lawyer immediately:

  • Your employer sues you or threatens to sue you
  • You’re being asked to sign an agreement that you don’t fully understand, such as a noncompete, nondisclosure, confidentiality, arbitration, or employment agreement
  • You’ve been accused of a crime (in which case you should contact a criminal defense attorney)

Other situations where you probably need a Kansas City employment attorney include:

  • If you think your employer or former employer has broken any Missouri or federal employment laws
  • You are experiencing retaliation for complaining about discrimination or something illegal the employer has done
  • You think that you’re not being paid the wages that you’re owed
  • You think that you’re misclassified as exempt from overtime wages or as an independent contractor

When You Probably Don’t Need a Lawyer (Yet!)

Just like there are situations where you probably need a lawyer, there are also some workplace situations where you probably won’t need an attorney by your side. That said, you are free to always benefit from the legal counsel and expertise of an experienced attorney at your side.

Some of the situations where a lawyer might not be necessary include:

  • You’re writing a complaint to your HR department
  • You need to attend a disciplinary meeting
  • You need to sign documents that you do understand
  • You need to file a union grievance as a union member

Keep in mind that any of these situations could turn into a serious legal matter, and so it’s important to thoroughly document any processes and keep records, if possible.

Contact the KC Employment Law Attorneys at Popham Law

There is nothing more frustrating than being underpaid for the hours you put in, or suffering from discrimination and harassment at the workplace and not having an administrative option that would put a stop to it. For these reasons, we at the Popham Law Firm serve as diligent and relentless advocates of employee rights in Missouri, and we’ll provide an aggressive and professional representation with your interests at the forefront of our litigation strategy.

If you’re facing serious legal issues at your workplace, call Popham Law in Kansas City today. Call (816) 221-2288 or toll-free at (844) 243-2288.

Don't Get Sued! Know Your Winter Responsibilities For Avoiding Slips and Falls

As any Kansas City resident will say, winter is the season of slips and falls, and while some slips can be funny, others can result in twisted ankles, concussions, broken bones, and, in some cases, worse. And when serious personal injury coincides with a slip and fall, the victim may be facing costly medical expenses, lost wages, and suffering. For this reason, if you own a business or other property in Kansas City, it’s essential to maintain your property for winter conditions, prevent slips and falls, and, ultimately, prevent a lawsuit.

Prevent Slip and Fall Injuries in Kansas City | Popham Law Personal Injury Attorneys

At Popham Law in Kansas City, our slip and fall and personal injury attorneys have seen it all, including property owners who were found to be liable for winter conditions, such as ice or snow. As such, we’ve prepared this blog post about your winter responsibilities for preventing slips and falls.

However, if you need some of the leading personal injury attorneys in Kansas City, call our law firm at (816) 221-2288.

Am I Responsible for the Slip and Fall?

Before going around your property, workplace, public building, or other property, it’s important to ask yourself, “Will I be responsible if someone slips and falls on my property?” Generally, it’s safe to assume that if you own the property, and are the title holder, then an injured person’s lawsuit can be directed at you. If you are a manager at a company or the owner of a small business, and you’re incorporated, the lawsuit may try to hold your company liable instead of putting your personal assets at risk. Nonetheless, a lawsuit will be a huge expense.

Remember – for a slip and fall lawsuit, determining liability is a key factor in any case. Additionally, in order for a property owner to be held legally responsible for the injuries, one of the following must be true:

  • The property owner knew about the hazard and did not try to correct it
  • The property owner should have known about the hazard and taken steps to prevent injury, just as any “reasonable person” would have done
  • The property owner created the hazard

With ice- or winter-related slips and falls, you most likely didn’t create the hazard, but someone could argue that you knew about (or should have known about) the conditions and could have prevented the injury.

Assessing Slip and Fall Hazards

In order to try and prevent slips and falls (or, at least, try to make yourself immune to a lawsuit), you can take a three-pronged approach that includes 1.) assessment, 2.) controlling hazards, and 3.) engaging others.

Assessment should be the first part of your plan. When the weather dips way below freezing during the night, or a large storm passed through, or there is simply an increased risk for snow and ice around the city, then you should always assess any slip and fall hazards on your property. This assessment can include:

  • Conducting detailed inspections of parking lots, walkways and entrances
  • Inspecting any sloped surfaces, stairs, ramps, and paths
  • Spot checking for other hazards, such as formations of ice dams that’ll block drainage, back up on sidewalks, and re-freeze
  • Making plans to avoid indoor slips and falls from tracked-in hazards

Controlling the Hazards to Reduce or Eliminate Risk

After making thorough assessments, you can start controlling the hazards to optimize the risk management around your property. Some specific tasks you can follow include:

  • Discuss expectations with your maintenance staff or snow removal vendor.
  • Keep hazardous areas free of snow and ice, and prepare for continued maintenance throughout the day. Keep gloves and a shovel ready.
  • If you own a business, assign workers to remove snow and other hazards before other employees or customers arrive. Consider using a slip-resistant material.
  • Install slip-resistant flooring materials around areas prone to wet conditions.
  • If you own a business, require workers to wear footwear appropriate for the conditions.
  • Provide good lighting and illuminate parking lots, paths, and walkways.
  • Use “Caution” signs if caught off-guard or temporarily unable to keep up with floor cleaning.

Call the KC Slip and Fall Attorneys at Popham Law

Of course, there is some leniency during major winter storms. You shouldn’t have to braze a blizzard and put yourself at risk just to eliminate the potential risks. Nevertheless, it’s important to be proactive and eliminate risks when possible. If you were in a slip and fall, make sure to get the leading slip and fall attorneys in Kansas City by calling Popham Law at (816) 221-2288.