waiter-1151761-m.jpgThe Missouri Human Rights Act prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace. Section 213.055 RSMo. Your employer cannot terminate you, fail to hire you, or demote you because of your sex, either male or female. Many Missouri cases tend to deal with sexual discrimination in the workplace against women, but men can also be the victims of discrimination in the workplace based on sex.
Recently, the restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday has been sued by the EEOC for discriminating against its male employees. Allegedly, the restaurant chain posted a job opening and expressly asked for female candidates only. The complainants in this case worked at a Ruby Tuesday located in Republic, Missouri. However, the job posting went out to employees in many states, and was for a job opening in Utah. Ruby Tuesday hired 7 women and no men for the job. The case is still pending.
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fiver-person-team-1208846-m.jpgMissouri law, under the Missouri Human Rights Act, Chapter 213, RSMo., prohibits discrimination in the workplace. What this means, generally, is that employers in Missouri cannot fail to hire, terminate, or otherwise take “adverse employment action” against an employee because of that employee’s race, religion, color, national origin, sex, disability, ancestry or age, if over the age of 40 (“protected categories”).

Generally, absent a contract between the employee and employer, Missouri is an employee-at-will state, which means that employers can typically fire someone for any reason, so long as that reason is not discriminatory based on one of the above listed categories of persons. For example, it is generally not illegal for an employer to fire you just because they do not like you, or because they are just a bad boss.

Some examples of ways an employer can discriminate based on the protected categories is in hiring, firing, laying off, transferring, promoting, recalling workers, pay, benefits, disability leave, failing to accommodate someone because of their disability, or by other conditions or terms of that persons employment if they seem adverse as compared to other persons.
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car accident.jpgMissouri drivers should use more caution on the roadways, as Missouri driver deaths are on the rise in 2012. As of September 4, 2012, 554 persons died on Missouri roadways. At the same time in 2011, only 478 had died.

Driver inattention is likely to blame for the rise in deaths, as well as drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts. Drivers should take care to buckle up, and not use their cell phones while driving. Sixty percent of those who died in a Missouri car accident were not wearing a seat belt.
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images.jpgThe Missouri Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 that the 2005 law that limited a patient’s recovery for pain and suffering in a medical malpractice case was unconstitutional. Watts v. Lester E. Cox Medical Centers, SC91867. The 2005 law, 538.210 RSMo., held that no victim of medical malpractice could recover more than $350,000 for his or her pain and suffering.The Missouri Supreme Court held that this was unconstitutional, because it denied the patient a right to a trial by jury, which includes the right to have a jury asses damages. The full opinion can be read here.

Thumbnail image for snowy road.jpgWinter driving in Missouri is often unpredictable, and car and vehicle accidents can occur when precautions are not taken. Serious personal injury or even death can occur unless drivers either avoid driving altogether is unsafe winter conditions, or take serious precautions when doing so.

The Missouri Department of Transportation offers these tips to help drivers in the winter.
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4787077008_b3ae94a463_s.jpgMissourians are approaching the Fourth of July Holiday weekend, and everyone at Ponder Zimmermann hopes that everyone enjoys an accident-free weekend. Higher levels of traffic can lead to auto accidents, and boating safety is extremely important as thousands of Missourians head to this state’s rivers and lakes. The Missouri Highway Patrol issued this statement concerning boating safety. St. Louis and the surrounding areas have experienced a lot of high water and flooding this spring and summer, so it is especially important to be cautious this summer while having fun on the water.

Another safety concern over the holiday weekend is firework safety. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued these warnings concerning firework safety.

firefighter.jpgThe Missouri workers compensation system provides certain benefits to Missouri workers who suffer on the job injuries and, under certain circumstances, who develop occupational diseases. Generally, however, workers compensation benefits are not provided to individuals who develop coronary artery disease.

An exception to this rule is set forth in RSMo. 287.067.6, which states that diseases of the heart and lungs can be considered an occupational disease in a paid firefighter if a direct causal relationship can be established between the disease and exposure to smoke, gases, carcinogens, or inadequate oxygen. Presumably, the Missouri Legislature wanted to extend benefits to firefighters for coronary artery disease and other types of heart disease because it is well recognized in the medical and scientific communities that firefighters have a significantly higher risk for coronary artery disease because of the unique and dangerous exposures they face through their job. Firefighters are exposed to dangerous inhalants, like smoke and particulate matter, and unique types of stress, that are dangerous to the heart.

If you are a firefighter suffering from coronary artery disease, contact the attorneys at Ponder Zimmermann LLC. We may able to assist you in obtaining workers compensation benefits.

bandaged knee.jpgOn June 14, 2011, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, issued an opinion addressing the applicability of the prevailing factor standard in Missouri workers’ compensation cases. The claimant/employee sought workers’ compensation benefits after suffering a torn lateral meniscus during an on the job accident. Because the claimant had a degenerative arthritic condition, arthroscopy was not an option. Instead, a total knee replacement was required.

The employer denied coverage for the total knee replacement, asserting that the torn lateral meniscus was not the prevailing factor in causing the need for the total knee replacement. The Administrative Law Judge agreed, as well as the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission.

The Court of Appeals, however, did not agree, thereby reversing the decision. The Court held that, once it is determined that a compensable injury has occurred, the test for determining if treatment should be covered is whether the treatment is reasonably required to cure and relieve the effects of the injury. In other words, prevailing factor need not be demonstrated when determining if a particular treatment is necessary following a compensable injury. The case is Tillotson v. St. Joseph Medical Center.

hot coffee.jpgEveryone has heard the criticism and attacks on trial lawyers and victims of personal injuries who sue when they are injured. People often cite trial lawyers and victims who bring a lawsuit as a drain on business and call such lawsuits “frivolous.” However, if you’ve ever been injured because of the fault of another, you know your lawsuit is not “frivolous.” And unfortunately, the victim’s side of the story is often not told. However, a new film is about to premier on HBO that tells a victim’s side of the story.

HBO will show a documentary entitled “Hot Coffee” on June 27, 2011. This movie tells the tale of the most famous personal injury lawsuit of all time–the lady who spilled her McDonald’s hot coffee on her lap. This movie will be eye-opening for many who have been taught to believe that all personal injury lawsuits are frivolous and are just brought by people who are greedy and seeking a jack-pot win.

surgeon 2.jpgI was recently contacted by an individual who had endured significant complications following a surgical procedure. It turns out this individual’s doctor allowed another doctor to perform the surgery without obtaining consent from the patient. In fact, the patient had not met or even heard the doctor’s name until several weeks after the surgery, when complications began to arise. Moreover, the doctor who actually performed the surgery was much less experienced than the original doctor.

Believe it or not, this happens often. It is referred to as ghost surgery. There are obvious concerns with this practice, one of which is the lack of informed consent. In Missouri, physicians are required to obtain a patient’s informed consent prior to performing a surgical procedure, with the exception of emergencies. The identity of the surgeon is crucial to informed consent. Failing to obtain proper informed consent may open the surgeon up to liability for medical malpractice.

If you have been the victim of a ghost surgery, contact the lawyers at Ponder Zimmermann LLC.