Labor and Employment Law

New Year, New Laws in Missouri – Minimum Wage and Firearms

The bringing of a new year always involves the effectiveness of new legislation, and 2017 is no different. This Blog for Business Law post highlights some of the new laws that officially took effect January 1, 2017. Specifically, this post outlines two laws that could most likely impact business operations.

First and foremost, Missouri raised its minimum wage rate from $7.65 per hour to $7.70 per hour, effective January 1, 2017. Tipped employees must be paid half of the state minimum wage rate, or $3.85 per hour. However, if the tipped employee does not make up the other half of the minimum wage in tips, the employer is required to pay the difference so that the tipped employee is paid $7.70 per hour. Employers engaged in retail or service businesses whose annual gross income is less than $500,000 are not required to pay the state minimum wage rate and instead can pay employees wages of their choosing. While this hike may seem minimal, Missouri employers must remain compliant and may need to see how the hike affects profitability.

In addition, retention periods and penalties remain consistent. An employee may bring any legal action necessary to collect wages owed, and an employer who pays an employee wages less than what is due under the law shall be liable for the full amount of the wage rate and an additional equal amount as liquidated damages, less any amount actually paid, and for costs and reasonable attorney fees. Employers must keep a record of the name, address, and job description of each employee, the rate of pay, the amount paid each pay period, and the number of hours worked each day and each workweek for at least three years. Additional information, including the 2017 Missouri Minimum Wage Summary Poster is available here on the Missouri Department of Labor’s website.

Another law that came into effect January 1, 2017 and is widely disputed involves concealed carry. Senate Bill 656 allows open and concealed carry throughout Missouri, for those 19 years or older, with or without a concealed carry permit. This law, however, contains many exceptions. It remains illegal for domestic violence offenders and felons to carry a firearm, and it remains illegal to possess a firearm in 17 statutorily enumerated places (police stations, polling places, correctional institutions, courthouses, meetings of government, airports, bars, schools, child care facilities, gambling operations, amusement parks, churches, marked private property, arenas, hospitals, and those places prohibited by local government or federal law).

A question of concern that arises from this statute is what it means to businesses, especially with respect to patrons and employees. This question is specifically addressed in subsection 15 of Section 571.107?of the Missouri Revised Statutes.

[Concealed carry shall not be authorized on a]ny private property whose owner has posted the premises as being off-limits to concealed firearms by means of one or more signs displayed in a conspicuous place of a minimum size of eleven inches by fourteen inches with the writing thereon in letters of not less than one inch. The owner, business or commercial lessee, manager of a private business enterprise, or any other organization, entity, or person may prohibit persons … from carrying concealed firearms on the premises and may prohibit employees … from carrying concealed firearms on the property of the employer. If the building or the premises are open to the public, the employer of the business enterprise shall post signs on or about the premises if carrying a concealed firearm is prohibited. An employer may [also] prohibit employees or other persons … from carrying a concealed firearm in vehicles owned by the employer.Mo. Ann. Stat. § 571.107 (West).

Thus, companies are free to prohibit firearms on their premises so long as proper signage is provided. The law on concealed carry and minimum wage are just two examples of recent legislation in Missouri, and companies should continuously monitor rules and regulations that could affect their operations. For further guidance on the effects of any new legislation and what steps to take next, please contact the attorneys of Evans & Dixon.

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