KNOW YOUR RIGHTS ON THE JOB
WHAT IF I LOSE MY JOB?
FIRED OR LAID OFF
• There is usually no way to contest your termination unless you belong to a union or if
discrimination was the motive. Many workers join unions to protect themselves against the employers’ right to fire at will.
• An employer is not required to call you back from
Call RI AFL-CIO at (401) 751-7100
You may be eligible to collect a percentage of your wages if:
• You have been laid off, fired without good cause, or quit for a good reason (RIGL 28-44-17) and
• You have earned enough money to qualify for benefits (RIGL 28-44-11)
Call RIDLT at (401) 243-9100
You cannot be fired, denied employment, or otherwise discriminated against because of:
- race - sexual orientation
- national origin - gender identity
- religion - color
- age (40 and over) - sex
- disability (physical or mental) (RIGL 28-5-7)
MY RIGHT TO JOIN A UNION
You have the right to form or join a union. If a majority of workers vote for a union, an employer must recognize and negotiate with the union. (NLRA Sec 7)
Call the National Labor Relations Board at (866) 667-6572 or the State Labor Relations Board at 401-462-8830 or RI AFL-CIO at (401) 751-7100.
PRIVACY AT WORK
• Random drug testing is illegal (except for some federally-regulated jobs).
• An employer may test only with reasonable suspicion that drug use is affecting job performance. (RIGL 28-6.5-1(1))
• Job applicants may be required to take a drug test, but only after the applicant has been given a conditional offer of employment.
• Polygraph (lie detector) tests are illegal. (RIGL 28-6.1-1)
On an application an employer may not ask any questions about arrests or convictions however,
• A private employer may search an employees’ possessions.
• A union contract may limit the employer’s right to search.
• Government employees are protected against unreasonable searches.
• An employer may ban smoking at the workplace.
• An employer cannot ban smoking off the job. (RI Regulation R23-20.10-SMOKE)
• You have the right to inspect your personnel file. An employer needs to comply with your
request within 7 days. (RIGL 28-6.4-1)
Call American Civil Liberties Union at (401) 831-7171 with questions or a free brochure titled, “Your rights to Workplace Privacy in Rhode Island.”
HEALTH & SAFETY
IMPORTANT WORKPLACE LAWS
• Two or more employees who engage in protected concerted activity to try and improve their terms or conditions of employment may not be fired.
(NLRB 866-667-6572) (NLRA Sec. 7)
• You cannot be fired, threatened, or otherwise retaliated against for reporting a violation of any law to a government agency or to your employer or for refusing to violate the law. (Enforcement requires private legal action)
• If you are scheduled or requested to report to work, you must be paid for at least 3 hours.
(RIDLT 462-8550) (RIGL 28-12-3.2)
• Employees are entitled to a 20-minute break within a 6-hour shift or a 30-minute break within an 8-hour shift. Exceptions for health care and employers with less than 3 employees.
(RIDLT 462-8550) (RIGL 28-3-14)
• You must be paid for all hours worked, even if you are required to work before or after your scheduled hours.
• You cannot be required to work on a Sunday or a legal holiday. Note: Certain employers, such as restaurants and health facilities are exempt from the law.
(RIDLT 462-8550) (RIGL 5-234-2)
• Sexual harassment (unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature) is illegal.
(CHR 222-2661) (RIGL 28-51-2)
• Public employees and employees in companies with 50 or more people are entitled to take a leave of up to 12 weeks per year under federal law or 13 weeks under state law due to the birth or adoption of a child or due to the serious illness of a family member or themselves, if they have worked for their employer for at least one year and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months.
(RIGL 28-48-2) (USDOL 528-4431 and RIDLT 462-8550)
• It is illegal for employees to do assembling or processing of materials for an employer in the home.
WORKERS’ RIGHTS HOTLINE
Protecting Workers and Immigrants
The organizations listed below can assist you with workplace rights and immigration laws, expressed in the following languages:
English: Institute for Labor Studies 401-463-9900
Spanish & English: Fuerza Laboral 401-725-2700
Spanish & Portuguese: Progreso Latino 401-728-5920
Hmong, Lao, Khmer &Vietnamese: Socioeconomic Development Center for Southeast Asians 401-274-8811
Hmong: Hmong United Association 401-455-0847
Multi-Lingual: International Institute 401-784-8634
DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED FOR WORK
• To be eligible to work, you must present a document or combination of documents that establish your Identity and employment eligibility (for example, a drivers license and a Social Security card).
• Employers cannot specify which documents they will accept from an employee.
MINORS IN THE WORKPLACE
WHAT KINDS OF WORK CAN I DO IF I AM 14 OR 15 YEARS OLD?
If you are 14 or 15 years old, you may work in retail and in food service businesses provided that your job fits into one or more of the categories listed below:
- Office and clerical work, including operation of office machines.
- Cashiering, selling, modeling art work, work in advertising departments, window trimming, and comparative shopping.
- Price marking and tagging by hand or by machine, assembling orders, packing and shelving.
- Bagging and carrying out customers’ orders.
- Errand and delivery work by foot, bicycle and public transport.
- Cleanup work, including the use of vacuum cleaners and non-commercial floor waxers, and maintenance of grounds, but not including power-driven mowers or cutters.
- Kitchen work and other work involved in preparing and serving food and beverages, including the operation of machines and devices used in the performance of such work, such as, dishwashers, toasters, dumbwaiters, popcorn poppers and milk shake blenders.
- Cleaning vegetables and fruits, and wrapping, sealing, labeling, weighing, pricing and stocking goods when performed in areas physically separate from areas where meat is prepared for sale, and outside freezers or meat coolers.
(Source: 29 CFR 570 Subpart C)
WHAT KINDS OF WORK CAN I NOT DO IF I AM 14 OR 15 YEARS OLD?
- Any manufacturing occupation.
- Any mining occupation.
- Processing occupations such as filleting of fish, dressing poultry, cracking nuts, or laundering as performed by commercial laundries and dry cleaning.
- Occupations requiring the performance of any duties in workrooms or workplaces where goods are manufactured, mined or otherwise processed.
- Public messenger service.
- Any employment in an Adult Entertainment Establishment.
- Operation or tending of hoisting apparatus or of any power-driven machinery (other than of ice machines and machines in retail, food service, which are specified in the list of permitted occupations above as machines which 14 or 15 year olds may operate in such establishments).
- Any occupation found and declared to be hazardous by official designation.
- Occupations in connection with:
- Transportation of persons or property by rail, highway, air, water, pipeline, or other means.
- Warehousing and storage.
- Communications and public utilities.
- Construction (including repair).
*Except office and sales work in connection with these four categories as long as such office and sales work is not performed at the site of the prohibited jobs.
- Any of the following occupations, even in retail, food service or gasoline service establishments:
- Work performed in or about boiler or engine rooms.
- Work in connection with maintenance or repair of the establishment, machines or equipment.
- Outside window washing that involves working from window sills.
- All work requiring the use of ladders, scaffolds, or their substitutes.
- Cooking (except at soda fountains, lunch counters, snack bars, or cafeteria serving counters) and baking.
- Occupations which involve operating, setting up, adjusting, cleaning, oiling or repairing power-driven food slicers and grinders, food choppers and cutters, and bakery-type mixers.
- Work in freezers and meat coolers and all work in preparation of meats for sale (except wrapping, sealing, labeling, weighing, pricing, and stocking, when performed in other areas).
- Loading and unloading goods to and from trucks, railroad cars or conveyors.
- All occupations in warehouses except offices and clerical work.
- Any occupation in any billiard or pool room.
- Any occupation working in a tunnel.
- Dispensing fuel, checking or changing oil / automotive fluids or washing cars.
- Work as a parking lot attendant.
(Sources: 29CFR 570 Subpart C, RIGL 28-3-9, RIGL 28-3-9.1)
WHAT KINDS OF WORK CAN I DO IF I AM 16 OR 17 YEARS OLD?
If you are 16 or 17 years old, you are NOT covered by the detailed list of permitted and prohibited occupations for 14 and 15 year olds.
WHAT KINDS OF WORK CAN I NOT DO IF I AM 16 OR 17 YEARS OLD?
All 16 and 17 year old workers (and ALL minors under 18 years of age) are PROHIBITED from certain occupations involving the following, which have officially been found to be hazardous:
- Manufacturing and storing explosives.
- Any mining profession.
- Logging and saw milling.
- Power-driven woodworking machines.
- Exposure to radioactive substances.
- Power-driven hoisting apparatus.
- Power-driven metal-forming, punching, and shearing machines.
- Any employment in an adult entertainment establishment. (RIGL 28-3-9.1)
- Slaughtering, or meat packing, processing, or rendering. Includes slicer operation.
- Power-driven bakery machines.
- Power-driven paper-product machines.
- Manufacturing brick, tile, or related products.
- Power-driven circular saws, bend saws, and guillotine shears.
- Roofing operations.
- Excavation operations.
- Motor vehicle driving and outside helper.
* Minors 17 years of age may operate automobiles and trucks if certain criteria are met. For more information contact RIDLT at (401) 462-8550
There are some exceptions to these lists. For more information or questions call the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training / Labor Standards at (401) 462-8550 or US Department Of Labor at (401) 528-4431.
- As of January 1, 2019, the RI minimum wage is $10.50 (RIGL § 28-12-3)
- For workers who receive tips it is $3.89 per hour (wages plus tips must equal $10.50)
- In some cases a sub-minimum page may be paid. Full time students under 19 years of age who work for a non-profit religious, educational, library or community service organization, the employer shall pay to each such employee wages at a rate of not less than ninety percent (90%) of the minimum wage as specified in § 28-12-3.
- To determine your wage or for other questions, call the RI Department of Labor & Training (RIDLT) at (401) 462-8550.
You must be paid 1.5 times the hourly rate when you work:
- More than 40 ours in a week
- On Sundays or legal holidays (except for restaurants, health facilities and some other workplaces) (RIGL 28-12-4.1-3)
- There is no limit on the number of hours per day or per week that adults may work, unless specified by a union contract.
MINIMUM SHIFT HOURS
An employee requested or permitted to report for duty at the beginning of a work shift must be provided with 3 hours of work or 3 hours wages. Employees who work in retail establishments must be provided with 4 hours of work on Sundays and /or holidays. (RIGL 28-12-3.2)
IF I AM SICK AND CANNOT WORK
You may collect a percentage of your wages from Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) if:
- You are out of work for at least one week due to illness or injury (not work related)
- And you have earned enough money to qualify for benefits (RIGL 28-41-11)
- An employer is not legally required to pay you when you are sick.
- Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) is available for individuals who will be out of work for seven or more days to collect benefits to care for a seriously ill child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, parent-in-law, grandparent or to bond with a newborn child, adopted child, or foster child.
Call TDI/TCI at (401) 462-8420.
IF I AM INJURED AT WORK
- Notify your employer and a doctor immediately about any work-related injury or illness.
- Workers' compensation insurance pays all related medical expenses if the injury or illness is found to be work related. (RIGL 28-33-5)
- Workers' Compensation insurance may pay part of your wages if you are out of work more than 3 consecutive days. (RIGL 28-33-4)
- In most cases, you have the right to return to your previous job for at least one year, providing you are capable of performing the job with reasonable accommodation from your employer. (RIGL 28-33-47)
Call the Workers' Compensation Education Unit to obtain free information and advice about the Workers' Compensation system and claims status at (401) 462-8100 x1
UNSAFE WORKING CONDITIONS
- Your employer must provide a workplace free from recognized hazards.
- You have a right to information from your employer on health and safety hazards that may exist at your worksite, such as information about hazardous chemicals. (RIGL 28-21-1)
- You have a right to file a complaint with OSHA
Call OSHA at (401) 528-4669 or RI Committee on Occupational Safety and Health at (401) 751-2015.