Please note: Entries within this blog may contain references to instances of domestic abuse, dating abuse, sexual assault, abuse or harassment. At all times, Cannabis Workers Coalition encourages readers to take whatever precautions necessary to protect themselves emotionally and psychologically.  If you would like to speak with an advocate, please contact a 24/7 peer advocate at 1-800-799-SAFE, Indigenous folx can call 844-762-8483, deaf and hard of hearing services available via video phone 855.812.1001, or chat online now.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month and according to Legal Momentum, an advocacy group, survivors of domestic violence lose an average of 137 hours of work a year. Intimate partner violence causes survivors to lose the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs each year. Employees are just human beings with their own obstacles, that’s why we at the CWC found it important that you know how to navigate your rights on the job while facing domestic violence at home.

In Oregon, if you experience domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking (or if you are a parent or guardian of a victim), your employer must make reasonable changes to support your safety.

This could look like: a transfer, reassignment, modified schedule, unpaid leave, changed work phone number, changed work station, installed lock, new safety procedure, or other adjustment after threatened or actual events.

  • You can also take protected leave to find legal or law enforcement assistance, get medical treatment for injuries or mental health support, move or change your living situation, and more.
  • Your employer must keep all documents and information confidential.
  • You can’t be fired, suspended, retaliated or discriminated against in any way because you are a victim.

I am dealing with a domestic violence situation and afraid I will be fired from my job. Do I have any legal protections?

Yes. Federal law explicitly protects victims of domestic violence in the workplace or permits them time off to deal with it. Oregon law reaffirms that by saying employers with 6+ employees are required to allow workers to take reasonable leave from employment for any of the following purposes: 

  1. To seek legal or law enforcement assistance or remedies to ensure the health and safety of the employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent, including preparing for and participating in protective order proceedings or other civil or criminal legal proceedings related to domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking. 
  2. To seek medical treatment for or to recover from injuries caused by domestic violence or sexual assault to or harassment or stalking of the eligible employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent. 
  3. To obtain, or to assist a minor child or dependent in obtaining, counseling from a licensed mental health professional related to an experience of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking. 
  4. To obtain services from a victim services provider for the eligible employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent. 
  5. To relocate or take steps to secure an existing home to ensure the health and safety of the eligible employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent.

I was discriminated against at work for being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. What rights do I have?

Discrimination that occurs because an individual is, or is perceived to be, a victim of domestic violence includes any negative action against a survivor of domestic violence. This type of discrimination can include being fired, harassed, or not hired for a job due to your situation. This discrimination may happen when you must take time off work to participate in or prepare for court proceedings related to domestic violence. Discrimination may also result from a disruption, or a threat of disruption, in the workplace by someone who has committed or threatened domestic violence against the employee. If you feel you have experienced discrimination, you may have rights under sex discrimination laws or wrongful discharge laws. 

 I was fired because I missed too much work while dealing with an abusive situation. Can I collect unemployment?

Maybe. You are eligible for unemployment insurance if you are fired from your job for a reason unrelated to your work performance. However, in most states, you will probably be ineligible for unemployment benefits if you are fired for an act of “misconduct”. For example, if you are fired because you missed several days of work without providing a reason or if you have failed to complete your job requirements, even if it is because of domestic or sexual violence, you may not qualify for benefits because of your misconduct. If your missed days were covered in a sick leave policy or you obtained permission to miss work according to company policy, you may be eligible for benefits.

If you are pregnant or have children, Oregon has a Temporary Assistance Fund to help domestic violence survivors. This can include up to $1200.00 over a 90 day eligibility period.

Nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. Now is time to take a stand. Support survivors and speak out against domestic violence all month long.

If you need assistance or want to talk to someone about domestic violence, please contact a 24/7 peer advocate at 1-800-799-SAFE, Indigenous folx can call 844-762-8483, deaf and hard of hearing services available via video phone 855.812.1001, or chat online now.

Note that the contents of this guide are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. Contact the Cannabis Workers Coalition for employee-side employment attorney referrals.

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