AnnaMarie Houlis
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Here's everything you need to know about the right-to-work law, at-will employment and these mean in Missouri.

What is right to work?

The right-to-work law, which is also known as the Workplace Freedom or Workplace Choice law, is a law that grants workers the right to choose whether or not they'd like to join a union in their workplace. Likewise, it also makes it optional for workers already in unionized workplaces to pay union dues and other membership fees that are required for union representation (whether they're involved in the union or not).

What is at-will employment?

Every state with the exception of Montana is an at-will employment state. Under the at-will employment policy, either the employer or the employee can terminate employment at any time for any reason (unless it's illegal and proven wrongful termination, which is hard to do) without consequence — unless the employee has a contract or a union agreement that states otherwise.

Is Missouri a right to work state?

Missouri is not a right-to-work state. In fact, in a referendum, 67.5 percent of voters opposed the law, according to The New York Times.

Can you be fired for any reason in Missouri?

Missouri is an at-will state, which means that you can be fired for any just reason at any time. Again, proving wrongful termination isn't always an easy feat, but your employer can only fire you for legal reasons.

While the Missouri law passed in 2017, labor groups were successful in petitioning to put the law to a state-wide vote, and they garnered around 300,000 signatures, which was twice the number they needed, according to Vox. They ultimately surpassed proponents of the law by almost five to one in the campaign to overturn it. And, thus, Missouri has become the first state to overturn the right-to-work law by a referendum.

What are important Missouri labor laws?

Here are three important labor laws in Missouri of which you should be aware.

1. Overtime Law

"Missouri labor laws require employers to pay employees overtime at a rate of 1½ time their regular rate when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek, unless otherwise exempt," according to the Employment Law Handbook.

Specifically, the law reads:

1. "No employer shall employ any of his employees for a workweek longer than forty hours unless such employee receives compensation for his employment in excess of the hours above specified at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed."

2. "Employees of an amusement or recreation business that meets the criteria set out in 29 U.S.C. 213(a)(3) must be paid one and one-half times their regular compensation for any hours worked in excess of fifty-two hours in any one-week period."

3. "With the exception of employees described in subsection (2), the overtime requirements of subsection (1) shall not apply to employees who are exempt from federal minimum wage or overtime requirements including, but not limited to, the exemptions or hour calculation formulas specified in 29 U.S.C. Sections 207 and 213, and any regulations promulgated thereunder."

4. "Except as may be otherwise provided under sections 290.500 to 290.530, this section shall be interpreted in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. Section 201, et seq., as amended, and the Portal to Portal Act, 29 U.S.C. Section 251, et seq., as amended, and any regulations promulgated thereunder."

2. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

In every state, including Missouri, the OSHA of 1970 intends to "assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act, by assisting and encouraging the states in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education and training in the field of occupational safety and health; and for other purposes," according to the law.

3. Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964

This federal law affects every state, including Missouri. The law reads: "It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer … to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

Specifically, Title VII forbids discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring/firing, compensation, job advertisements, testing, recruiting, fringe benefits, transfers/promotions, layoffs/recalls, use of company facilities, training/apprenticeship programs, pay, retirement plans, disability leave, as well as other terms and conditions of employment.

What are some resources for Missouri employees?

To learn more about employment laws in Missouri, check out these resources:

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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