Cannabis Farms Required to Carry Workers Comp
After California voters legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2018, governmental officials have struggled to keep up with the need for policies and protocols for issuing permits and licenses. Many marijuana growers took advantage of the chaos and started their businesses before licensing procedures and requirements were in place, including those requirements related to Workers Comp coverage for cannabis farm worker employees.
In fact, legalized marijuana has opened up a whole new area of law. The Orange County attorneys at Cantrell Green have watched with interest how workers comp law applies to both marijuana growers and vendors. In this article, Cantrell Green offers some of the basics.
Cannabis & Other Farm Workers Covered by Workers Comp
The cannabis industry falls within the laws and regulations that pertain to other agricultural sectors. While a number of states do not require workers comp coverage for agricultural and farm workers, California is more comprehensive. In fact, California requires all employers to provide workers comp benefits to all employees, including those employed as domestic workers, farm workers, agricultural workers, migrant workers, those providing temporary employment, and even undocumented workers.
To ensure that workers are aware of the coverage and how to obtain it in the event of illness or injury, California further requires that the name of the employer’s workers comp insurer or claims administrator is posted at the worksite. Employers must also post information about how an employee goes about getting access to benefits.
Undocumented Farm Workers Covered by Workers Comp
The legalization of cannabis for recreational use has posed some interesting issues. In an industry that was previously illegal, cannabis growers were likely not concerned with whether or not their farm workers were properly documented or not. As the farms become legitimized, they are subject to the same rules and regulations as the rest of the agricultural industry, including the laws pertaining to undocumented workers.
Only eight states (Arizona, California, Florida, Montana, Nevada, New York, Texas and Utah) have laws expressly providing workers comp benefits to undocumented workers. Most states have not yet enacted legislation that addresses workers comp benefits for undocumented workers, but Idaho and Wyoming expressly exclude undocumented workers from receiving Workers Comp benefits.
Farm labor contractors or other employers have tended to lag behind the laws requiring workers comp insurance. In these instances, if an employee is injured on the job, the employer is fined, and the injured worker can get benefits from the Uninsured Employers Trust Fund.
Uninsured Cannabis Farm Receives Workers Comp Penalty
Courts are now beginning to see cases arising out of a business’ failure to provide workers comp benefits to employees of cannabis farms. For instance, Salinas-based Battle Mountain Genetics allegedly has failed to follow certain employment laws, including the requirement to provide workers comp insurance. In response, the state Labor Commissioner’s Office issued a judgment against Battle Mountain Genetics for failure to provide workers’ compensation insurance for its 20 employees from January to August, 2018.
The judgment imposed on Battle Mountain Genetics included a monetary penalty in the amount of $35,106, based upon a formula taking the cost for the weekly workers comp insurance premium and multiplying it by the number of weeks the employees were not insured. If the judgment is not paid, the Labor Commissioner has the right to seize the assets of the company.
Laws and regulations relating to cannabis farms seem to be developing and changing almost constantly in an attempt to catch up. It is therefore difficult to grasp what a worker’s rights are in terms of employment laws and workers comp benefits.
Orange County Farm Workers Workers Comp Attorneys
If you are an injured farm worker who was employed by a Cannabis grower or any other agricultural business, our attorneys at Cantrell Green in Orange County are here to help you collect the benefits for which you qualify – whether you are a migrant or a US Citizen. Our experienced workers comp attorneys speak both English and Spanish.
Your consultation with our Orange County workers’ comp attorneys is 100% confidential, and neither your employer nor your insurance company will be notified that you requested a consultation with us. Our lawyers will help you understand your rights and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum workers’ comp benefits for which you qualify.
Orange County Farm Workers’ Workers Comp Attorneys Free Consultation: 800-964-8047