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Kansas Employment and Labor Laws

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On March 15, 2023, Kansas recently saw one of its biggest labor law cases involving El Toro Loco Lenexa LLC and El Toro Loco Legends LLC. The two restaurants received complaints of violating federal overtime, minimum wage, and recordkeeping laws. 

During the investigation of the case, it was determined that 75 employees worked up to 66 hours per week without paid overtime. This act was clearly a violation of the labor laws in Kansas since, in accordance with the Department of Labor, employees who put in more hours per week way past the 40-hour limit, shall be paid an overtime minimum wage of $10.88 per hour. The restaurant owner did not abide by this law.

Because of the violation, the U.S. Department of Labor brought up a case against the proprietor, ruling that they must pay their employees nearly $772,000 in back wages. The case is just one of Kansas's many labor law issues involving unpaid overtime wages for employees. 

The U.S. Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, limiting the minimum work hours of workers to 44 and, two years later, trimming it down to 40 hours per week. This marked the progression of the initial labor law in the country proclaimed by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1869, which guaranteed a stable wage for government employees and allowed them to work only eight hours per day.

This law, however, has been violated by thousands of employers in the U.S. A report from PIIE Insider stated that there are 101,283 counts of overtime violations in the country. This number might be too broad to comprehend. 

To avoid becoming a victim of labor malpractices, the sections below will provide you with a comprehensive view of how employers in Kansas should be toward their employees in terms of minimum wage, leaves, and overtime pay. It will also tackle issues related to discrimination and wrongful termination.

Kansas Wage and Hour Laws

Minimum Wage

In Kansas, the current minimum wage for employees based on state and federal law is $7.25. This number has remained unchanged since its implementation in 2010 and applies to most employees in Kansas.

However, the minimum wage does not apply to everyone since there are exemptions to this rule, shown below:

Minimum Wage

Type of Employee

$2.13 per hour

This minimum wage is paid to tipped employees, who are workers earning a minimum of $20 per month.

$4.25 per hour

Paid to new employees under 20 years old. This amount is considered a paid training wage applicable for the first 90 days the employee started working for the company.

$6.16 per hour

For student workers and interns who work up to 20 hours per week.

$10.80 per hour

This is the minimum wage for federal contractor employees, effective January 1, 2020.

In addition to this list, certain jobs like newspaper deliverers, seasonal workers, babysitters, farm workers, and employees with disabilities that affect their work performance are also exempted from state and federal minimum wage requirements in Kansas.

Overtime Laws

Kansas requires overtime pay for employees who have worked more than 46 hours a week, diverging from the national threshold of 40 hours a week. The overtime minimum wage in Kansas is $10.88 per hour, amounting to one and a half times the regular minimum wage rate in the state.

However, certain employees are exempted from the overtime pay, such as those:

  • Serving their sentence in county jail;

  • Involved in motor vehicle sales for non-manufacturing companies;

  • Computer employees whose income is $684 per week or more, as well as those who work on a salary basis;

  • Outside sales employees;

  • Highly compensated workers, administrative officers, and executives with an annual salary of more than $107, 432.

Break Laws

There are no break laws required in Kansas, and it is up to employers to provide meal or rest break times for their employees to improve productivity and morale. Exemptions also apply to this rule, which can happen if a break lasts from five to 20 minutes, which is then considered compensable work hours for the employees. Note that this only applies to breaks given by employers, not meal periods.

Kansas Leave Requirements

Paid Time Off (PTO)

Kansas does not have any laws that govern paid time off. Employees are only required to adhere to their company’s specific guidelines about PTOs and the details of their employment contacts. 

Sick, Family, Paternity, and Maternity Leave

In Kansas, employers are not required to offer vacation leave to employees whose absences include maternity, being sick, or tending to sick family members. This type of leave is given by a few employers as a form of benefit for their employees.

But with the Family and Medical Leave Act, employers must provide their employees with an unpaid leave of 12 work weeks due to the employee’s serious health condition or if one of their family members gets sick.

Employees in Kansas who qualify for FMLA are those who:
- Work in locations where they have at least 50 co-workers hired by the company.
- Have been working under the company for a minimum of one year or equivalent to 1,250 hours worked in the previous year.

Holiday Leave

There are no laws in Kansas for holiday leave. Thus, private employers are not required to provide this to their employees and can have them work even during state holidays.

Regardless of this law, a number of employers in Kansas still provide their employees with a minimum of seven paid holidays a year.

Voting Leave

Employers in Kansas are required by law to provide their employees with up to two hours of paid leave to vote during elections.

Bereavement Leave

Kansas employers are not required by any state or federal laws to provide bereavement leave to their workers. An employee can request bereavement leave from their employer by following their company’s guidelines.

Military Leave

In Kansas, employers need to let their employees apply for unpaid leave to fulfill their military duties, which is a maximum of 30 days per year.

Employees who are eligible for military leave are those who are part of:

- The Kansas Air National Guard.
- The Kansas National Guard.
- The Kansas State Guard.
- Other military forces in the state.

Vacation Leave

Kansas does not have any employment laws regarding vacation leave, and employers are not required to provide one to their workers.

Jury Duty Leave

Although it is not in the state law to provide paid leave for employees attending a jury summons, the state has laws to punish employers who stop their workers from attending one.

Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault Leave

Employees must be given up to eight days of paid leave per year to deal with sexual assault and domestic violence issues.

Kansas Workplace Discrimination Laws

Any act of discrimination against employers based on their age, race, religion, pregnancy, medical history, or sexual orientation is deemed illegal in Kansas. This law has been declared by the Kansas Human Rights Commission as the Kansas Act Against Discrimination statute.

Is Kansas an At-Will Employment State?

Yes, Kansas is an at-will employment state. Thus, employers can fire their workers at any time, as long as the reason for terminating them does not result from discrimination. This law also applies to employees, as they can leave their jobs at any time without violating anything.

What Qualifies as Wrongful Termination in Kansas?

In the state, if an employee is fired due to their gender, rage, religion, disability, or nationality, this act is considered wrongful termination and has consequences under the law. In addition to discrimination, employers are not allowed to fire workers for whistleblower retaliation or for filing a workers’ compensation or wage and hour claim. Wrongfully terminating an employee in Kansas is a violation of public policy. 

Moreover, even if the state follows an at-will employment rule, if the employee and employer are bound by a contract stating employment security for the worker, the termination is deemed wrongful due to the provisions in the agreement. 

Employers also cannot remove an employee from the company for exercising their rights to vote, fulfill their military duties, or use their FMLA leaves. 

How Do You Report an Employer in Kansas for Wrongful Termination?

If you have been fired from your workplace for unreasonable reasons, such as discrimination or retaliation, you have various options to report this issue.

First, you can report it to the Kansas Human Rights Commission by submitting a claims form through e-mail (khrc@ink.org) or talking to their complaint intake unit representative by dialing 1-888-793-6874 or (785) 296-3206. After this, the Commission will provide you with a voluntary third-party medication program that will allow you to discuss matters with your employer. 

Take note that this only applies if your workplace has less than 15 employees. If that is not the case, you can submit a claim to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - Kansas City Area Office. This is located at Gateway Tower II, 400 State Ave., Suite 905 Kansas City, KS 66101. You may contact them directly at 913-340-8810 or via e-mail at kansascityintake@eeoc.gov

For the second option, you can choose to work with a lawyer near you to help you file a complaint against your previous employer for wrongful termination. To do this, contact an experienced lawyer closest to you so they can help you evaluate your case. Having a lawyer by your side throughout this process can allow you to understand your employment rights further, have a chance to be compensated for being wrongfully terminated, and even get your job back.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Termination Cases in Kansas?

Employers in Kansas are given two years to file tort claims against their employees for wrongful termination. If the reason for the termination was discrimination, workers have 180 days to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

However, if the reason for terminating the employee was related to a breach of a written contract, the employee has five years to file a lawsuit against their employer. For oral contracts, on the other hand, the employee has three years to file a claim.

How Much Can Someone Sue an Employer in Kansas for Wrongful Termination?

The average settlement for wrongful termination cases is between $5,000 and $100,000. However, employers in Kansas receive different amounts of settlement for their wrongful termination claims since the award for these cases is based on their lost earnings, medical bills, termination reasons, lost benefits, and punitive damages.

Most of the cases that reached higher awards were due to the presence of a lawyer on the side of the employee. Moreover, wrongful termination cases that reach the jury in Kansas can result in a settlement amount of $110,000 to $400,000. This large sum is mostly the reason why these types of cases are settled by employers before they reach the court to prevent undergoing both lengthy and costly procedures.

Resources for Employees in Kansas

After determining the various issues involved with labor laws in Kansas, along with the governing bodies that the employee must report their claim to, it can be hard to remember them. The list of resources below will give employees all the necessary information to file a labor law claim in Kansas and can even link them to possible employment opportunities.

Kansas Human Rights Commission

The Kansas Human Rights Commission provides employees with information related to employment. These pieces of information can include how to file a claim if they’re being discriminated against in employment, public accommodations, or housing. It also links individuals to trustworthy organizations, such as Kansas Legal Services, which can help them with issues involving the workplace.

Kansas Legal Services

Kansas Legal Services is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people in Kansas who have low and moderate incomes. It handles various types of cases, such as employment issues, consumer laws, debt collection, and housing matters. The organization’s official website also features free legal forms for state and federal income taxes, expungement, identity theft, divorce, and small claims court.

Cover Kansas

Cover Kansas aims to provide assistance to people who do not have access to health insurance at their workplace. Using its Health Insurance Marketplace services, the organization can offer them assistance to get Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Other than that, Cover Kansas also offers financial assistance to employees who do not have the budget to buy health insurance by providing them with individualized monthly premiums.

My Reemployment Plan Program

The My Reemployment Plan Program was established by Kansas Commerce to help people with their job search efforts. The program operates by connecting unemployed individuals to companies looking for talent. Only those eligible for the program can be accommodated since it does not accept those currently employed, participating in the Shared Work program, and active members of a placement union.

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