Archive for restaurant


Posted in Introduction, Know Your Rights, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: A RESTAURANT WORKER'S SURVIVAL GUIDE with tags , , , , , , , on November 3, 2008 by pdxrwa

Restaurant workers are vital to Portland’s local economy.  Oregon’s 9,000 restaurants posted sales of $4.7 billion in 2005. Most of these restaurants -the majority in Portland– are small, single-owner establishments with fewer than 20 workers.  Restaurants in Oregon employ more than 120,000 workers, 1 in 14 payroll workers in the state. (source: Oregon Restaurant Association)

Though food service workers are a dominant force in the economy, we are low paid, unlikely to receive benefits and mostly part-time due to the nature of the work.  In addition, our rights are continually falling through labor and employment law loopholes.  As a workforce, we are largely unprotected and rarely have the resources to hold our employers accountable.

If you are experiencing difficulty on the job, it is a good idea to document in writing every situation that you think may violate your legal rights. Be diligent.  Write down dates, times and witnesses so you can protect yourself from illegal firing or retaliation and prove your case if the need should arise.  Before you go to the Department of Labor, or hire an attorney, or attempt to go it alone, we encourage you to contact the Portland Restaurant Workers Association (PRWA), where volunteers can discuss your options with you.

At Will Employment

Posted in At Will Employment with tags , , , , on October 26, 2008 by pdxrwa

Oregon, like most states in the U.S., is an “at-will” employment state. This means that unless a written contract exists, an employee can quit with or without notice, at any time and for any reason. An employer can also fire any employee with or without notice, at any time and for any reason, as long as it is not an illegal reason. This situation makes it very hard for workers to prove they were fired for an illegal reason.

Some of the many illegal reasons for termination are because of a person’s race or gender, in retaliation for complaining about harassment, in retaliation for making a wage claim, and in retaliation for making a workers compensation claim. If you are experiencing difficulty on the job, it is a good idea to document in writing every situation that may violate your legal rights. Be diligent and record dates, times and witnesses so you can protect yourself from illegal firing/retaliation if the need should arise.

If an employee is terminated for an illegal reason, the employer can be forced to pay front pay, back pay, noneconomic damages, and punitive damages.

Pre-Employment Questions

Posted in Discrimination, Pre-Employment Questions with tags , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by pdxrwa

In regards to pre-employment questions (i.e. job interviews and applications), federal and state laws limit employers to asking only questions designed to determine qualifications for successful job performance. Also, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits questions relating to physical impairments or disabilities. Below are some examples of questions that are illegal for employers to ask:

  • How old are you? What’s your date of birth? (Certain jobs require an employer to ask “Are you 18 or over?” or “Are you 21 or over?”)
  • What is your race? Gender? Provide a photograph.
  • Are you pregnant? Are you planning on starting a family?
  • Have you ever applied for workers’ compensation?
  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Were you born in the U.S.? Are you a citizen of the U.S.?
  • Do you have any relatives that work for this company?

Source: BOLI

Drug Testing

Posted in Drug Testing with tags , , , , , , , on October 24, 2008 by pdxrwa

An employer is legally allowed to require a drug test from individuals seeking first-employment.  However, the employer must not discriminate and must test all prospective employees.

Federal and Oregon law do not specifically address drug testing employees.  While drug testing is legal, an employer must follow a procedure that guarantees an employee’s constitutional privacy rights.  The following protocol is generally accepted as legal:

  • The employer possesses a clear written policy regarding drug testing and it has been explained to all employees.
  • The method of selection for drug testing is clearly explained, whether it is done randomly, as result of an employer’s reasonable suspicion (based on facts, not rumors), or because of a workplace accident or incident.
  • The employer must apply a drug testing policy consistently, without discrimination.
  • A 30-day advanced notice before drug testing is recommend to preserve an individual’s expectation of privacy, unless the employer’s written policy states differently.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Oregon disability laws do not protect an employee from discipline or termination if a drug test is positive, but they do protect recovering (non-practicing) alcoholics and drug addicts.


Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) & Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA)

Posted in Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) & (OMLA) with tags , , , , on October 23, 2008 by pdxrwa

An employer who has 50 or more workers who live within 75 miles of the work site is subject to the FMLA. An employer who has 25 or more employees is also subject to the OFLA. Restaurant workers are often ineligible due to the nature of restaurant work and the limited staff of smaller local establishments.

To be an eligible worker under the FMLA, one must have worked for the employer for at least one year or over 1250 hours or about 25 hours a week for fifty-two weeks. To be an eligible worker under the OFLA, one must only have worked at least 180 calendar days at an average of 25 hours a week.

FMLA and OFLA both entitle an employee to up to a total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period because of a serious health condition, adoption, birth and family illness.

A worker may elect, or the employer may require, the worker to substitute accrued paid vacation, personal leave, or sick leave during this period of time. When the worker returns to work, the employer must return the worker to his former position or an equivalent position, with equivalent worker benefits.

If an injured worker takes leave and cannot return to work after the twelve weeks, generally the employer does not then have an obligation to rehire the worker at a later date. In other words, the employer is not required to hold the job open indefinitely.

BOLI publishes and makes available on its website an “FMLA Employee Informational Packet” which answers frequently asked questions about FMLA eligibility and filing process. BOLI also provides on its website leave requests forms that will assist you in the process of applying for FMLA.  These resources are linked below:

The information contained in this section was collected from the U.S. Department of Labor’s and BOLI’s websites:

Healthcare Resources

Posted in Healthcare Resource with tags , , , , , on October 22, 2008 by pdxrwa

The Coalition of Community Health Clinics

The Coalition of Community Health Clinics is a network of 13 private, non-profit health clinics located throughout Multnomah County. These clinics provide health services to the uninsured and under-served men, women and children in the Portland Metropolitan area.

The Coalition’s website also gives links to other low-cost healthcare providers in the Portland metropolitan area. Go to and click on the links to find out more information about what services these clinics offer:


The Medical Clinic is a coalition of medical and naturopathic doctors and interns, acupuncturists, and Chinese herbalists all of whom provide cutting edge multi-disciplinary primary care to homeless youth and low-income individuals lacking health insurance.

1132 SW 13th Ave
Portland, OR 97205-1703

Call: 503-535-3890 between 10am and 12pm or between 3pm and 5pm Monday through Friday.

Seven Star Acupuncture

Seven Star offers discounted specials on Thursdays for all restaurant workers.

436 SE 12th Ave
Portland, OR 97214

Monday 9am-8pm, Tuesday – Friday 10am-8pm, Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday CLOSED

Working Class Acupuncture

Sliding scale is $15-$35 per treatment. You decide what you can afford. There is a $10 paperwork fee for the first session.

3526 NE 57th Ave.
Portland, OR 97213
Call: 503-335-9440

Monday thru Friday: 8:30am-8pm, Saturday: 9am-4pm & Sunday: 9am-3pm


The YWCA offers counseling services for female identified persons on a sliding scale. Rates start at $19 a session. Most clients attend counseling once a week.

  • Must be age 14 or older.
  • Must be able to pay on a sliding fee scale based on income and family size.

To find out more or schedule an appointment, please call 503-294-7440.

Meal & Rest Periods

Posted in Meal & Rest Periods with tags , , on October 20, 2008 by pdxrwa

Meal Period

A 30 minute unpaid meal period is legally mandated for a work period of six to eight hours. If a worker is not relieved of all responsibilities during a meal period or remains on call, the 30 minute meal period must be paid. OAR 839-020-0050(A)(B)

Rest Period

Employers must provide workers with a paid, uninterrupted 10-minute rest break for every four-hour segment in a work period. OAR 839-020-0050(b)

Minors must be provided a paid, uninterrupted 15-minute rest break for every four-hour segment in a work period. OAR 839-021-0072(3)

Rest breaks should be given in the middle of each four-hour segment, whenever possible.


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