BE EMPOWERED

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

YOUR RIGHT TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF & YOUR FAMILY

* This information sheet is provided as a resource for general education and is not provided for the purpose of giving legal advice of any kind.

Your Right to Take Care of Yourself & Your Family

Paid Sick and Safe Leave

Paid Family and Medical Leave

Unpaid Family and Medical Leave

Pregnancy and Parental Leave

Domestic Violence Leave

On the Job Injury and Occupational Disease

Social Security for Long-Term Disability, Illness, and People in Need

Understand Your Rights

Paid Family and Medical Leave

Paid Family and Medical Leave is coming to Oregon beginning January 1, 2022, but it may already be available in your state. Seven States and D.C. have some form of Paid Family and Medical Leave, see if your state is on the list.

Coronavirus and Paid Sick Leave

The requirement that employers provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expired on Dec. 31, 2020

Employees may have a Workers’ Compensation claim for Coronavirus cases. See Your Right to Get Paid for more information on Worker’s Comp insurance, and see: Oregon’s Worker’s Comp COVID-19 Division

 

Unpaid Family and Medical Leave

The Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives any workers the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year when:

  • to care for yourself when seriously ill or pregnant;
  • to give birth and/or care for a newborn or newly placed child;
  • to care for an ill spouse, child or parent.

FAQs: FMLA

Who’s Covered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

You are eligible for unpaid family/medical leave if you and your employer meet the following conditions:

  1. If you work for a public employer, or a private employer who has 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks a year.
  2. Have worked for your employer for at least 12 months.
  3. Have worked at least 1,250 hours (about 25 hours per week) during the 12 months before the start of your leave. Both civilian job hours and hours of military service count towards total hours worked.
  4. Work at a location where your employer has at least 50 workers within a 75-mile radius.

Pregnancy and Parental Leave

Federal and state laws protect new parents’ rights to take time off to care for a newly born or newly adopted or fostered child. Pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions must be treated in the same way as other temporary illnesses or conditions.

It is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you because you are pregnant! In 2017, Washington State passed even stronger protections for pregnant employees. For more information on pregnancy discrimination, see Your Right to be Free of Discrimination.

FAQs: Parental Leave and Discrimination

Where to File a Claim

If you feel like your leave rights are being violated – you can go to a government agency (see below) for help and file a claim.  Or you can contact an employment lawyer and, in some cases, take your employer directly to court.

Contact information for these organizations can be found in the Resources chapter of this manual.

US Department of Labor

  • The Family Medical Leave Act

Employment Security Department

  • Paid Family and Medical Leave

State Labor Offices

Domestic Violence Leave

A small, but growing number, of states allow employees to take (paid or unpaid) leave to deal with issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking for themselves or family members. You can take time off for:

  • Law-enforcement assistance
  • Medical treatment or counseling at a domestic violence shelter or crisis program
  • Relocation and safety issues

You must give notice to your employer as soon as possible if you need this leave. When you are requesting leave for domestic violence, your employer may ask you to prove that either you or a family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Your employer must keep this information confidential. See if your state has a similar law.

 

On the Job Injury and Occupational Disease

Workers’ Compensation 

If you are injured at work or develop an occupational (work-related) disease, you can apply for workers’ compensation. If you need medical treatment for your injury or illness you may be entitled to help in paying for treatment. You may also be entitled to receive partial lost wages if illness or injury stopped you from being able to work. All employees have the right to receive workers’ compensation, including undocumented workers. 

Workers’ Compensation State Fund vs. Self-Insurance Coverage

State Fund

Most Washington employers purchase worker’s compensation insurance from a pool called the SAIF Corporation

Self-Insurance Coverage – See FAQs below.

For workers covered by the SAIF insurance programs:

If You Get Injured on the Job Or Diagnosed With An Occupational Disease:

1. Get First Aid and/or See a Doctor 

When you are injured on the job or realize you have an occupational disease you have some rights.  You can: 

  • Go to the doctor, healthcare provider, or emergency room of your choice,
  • Request an interpreter if you prefer to speak a language other than English, and
  • Refuse to have an employer representative go with you.

2. Report The Injury….

…To Your Doctor

Be sure to tell medical staff, including the doctor, that you were injured or made sick on the job. They will help you file your initial workers’ compensation paperwork, or file a claim. Explain to the doctor what caused your injury. 

If you can’t work, or can’t do all of the things you used to be able to do at work because of your injury, your doctor will also complete an Activity Prescription Form. This will tell your employer and L&I how your work must be changed or how long you need to rest. 

…To Your Employer

Let your employer know right away that you are injured so they know about your injuries when your State’s Labor Office paperwork arrives and can help you plan your return to work. If you don’t let your employer know about your injury and you need to file a claim later, it may be denied.

…To Your State Labor Office

The Report of Industrial Injury or Occupational Disease is an accident report form available at hospitals, clinics or doctors’ offices. You complete the worker portion of this form.  Your doctor fills out the medical portion of this form and sends it to your State’s Labor Office. 

Once your State’s Labor Office receives your claim, they will assign a claim manager. If you are more comfortable speaking a language other than English, you have the right to an interpreter at all doctors’ appointments and in all meetings with your State’s Labor Office’s case manager. 

…To Your Union, If You Have One

If you are in a union workplace, let your union representative know that you are injured. Union reps may be able to help with this process and need to be kept informed of all job-related injuries to help correct the workplace problem. Your union contract may provide you with additional protection in case of an on-the-job injury.

FAQs:

What do I do if my employer is self-insured?

If you work for a self-insured employer, your rights and benefits do not change, but you must file a claim through your employer. Your employer should have a notice on the safety bulletin board about how to file an accident report for a workplace injury or disease. You may also talk to your supervisor, union representative, or HR manager about how to do it. 

Your State’s Labor Office’s self-insurance section will help you if you disagree with your employer. For more information you can find your State’s Labor Office here.

What do I do if my employer tells me not to report the injury to the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), or tells me to lie and say it didn’t happen on the job?

This is illegal “claim suppression.” You should contact your State’s Labor Office right away.

Social Security for Long-Term Disability, Illness, and People in Need

If you become disabled for any reason and cannot work for at least 12 months, you may qualify for monthly cash payments and medical disability benefits from the federal Social Security Administration. These programs are called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You must be a US-citizen or documented non-citizen to qualify for SSDI or SSI.

If you are injured on the job or diagnosed with an occupational disease, you can apply for Workers’ Compensation as well – this is a state program run by Labor and Industries (L&I) (see section on On the Job Injury or Diagnosis of an Occupational Disease)

Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income and Workers’ Compensation are all separate. In some cases, you can collect benefits from more than one of these programs at the same time.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

SSDI, in most cases, is for people with disabilities who have a work history. You must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. The amount of SSDI you get depends on your past earnings. You do not have to be low income in order to receive SSDI.

What Is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

SSI is generally for people with disabilities of any age who have low incomes and assets less than $2,000. Low income people 65 years and older with or without disabilities may also be able to receive SSI benefits. You can get SSI if you have never worked.

A Summary Of Your Rights

  • There is no charge to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.
  • You should apply as soon as possible after becoming disabled.  Note: there is a five-month waiting period before you can begin to receive benefits.
  • You have the right to receive help from the Social Security Administration. If you do not speak English and need an interpreter, the Social Security Administration must provide one free of charge.
  • You have the right to see and copy your Social Security file upon request.
  • If Social Security denies your application, they must tell you in writing. The notice must explain how to appeal.
  • You have the right to appeal. If you are denied benefits, you have 60 days from the denial notice date to appeal.
  • You have the right to a representative or lawyer to help you in your appeal.

FAQs:

Do I Qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

You must be “disabled” and not able to work for at least 12 months. “Disability” under Social Security is based on how much you can work. Social Security will generally not consider you disabled and you will not qualify for benefits if you are working this calendar year AND your earnings average more than $1,220 a month (this figure is for 2019; this amount usually increases slightly every year).

You are considered disabled if:

  1. The SSA recognizes your medical condition. See this list of qualifying medical conditions: www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/index.htm.
  2. If your condition is not listed you may qualify if:
  • You cannot do the work you did before AND
  • You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s) AND
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

You must meet some minimum work requirements:

  • You must have worked recently.
  • You must have worked, and paid taxes, for long enough in your life. See the Disability Benefits online handbook for more information on these rules:http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10029.pdf

How Do I Qualify For Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Supplemental Security Income may be able to help you if you are blind, disabled or 65 years and older, and have little or no income. Disabled or blind children can also receive SSI. SSI provides money to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. It is not based on your previous work history.

  • You must be over age 65, or blind, or disabled.
  • You must be a US citizen, permanent resident, or US national who is, generally living in the US.
  • You must also show that you have little-to-no income or other resources to qualify.
  • The Social Security Administration (SSA) may also consider your living situation if you live in housing like a shelter, halfway house, or other community housing.

What If My Claim Is Denied?

If your claim is denied, appeal! You have 60 days from the date of the denial notice to appeal. Social Security often denies your first disability claim. Nationally, about 75% of all applicants are denied when they first apply. But many of these people ultimately get their benefits. 

Special Cases

Am I an Employee?

See Am I an Employee to determine if you’ve been misclassified as an independent contractor.

Make a Change

Get Involved

CWC gives workers a powerful voice through policy advocacy, leadership development, and community support. We host monthly Know Your Rights workshops that educate cananbis workers on their rights while at work.

Membership for workers is free and open to cannabis industry professionals of all kinds, from budtenders and trimmers to accountants and lab analysts.

Cannabis Workers Coalition

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