Several Federal Laws Protect Seasonal Farm Workers

The Department of Labor has recently issued a reminder to seasonal agricultural workers that several different federal laws protect the workers – both in terms of wages and hours worked and work-place conditions. These laws include: the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s Field Sanitation Standards.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis notes, “The Labor Department is committed to enforcing labor standard that protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s farm workers…Through outreach, we are spreading the word to farm labor contractors and growers that they must pay their workers the wages they have earned.” Solis adds, “Each employer is also responsible for ensuring workers’ health and safety, workers should not have to lose their lives or risk their health while working to provide for their families.”

Some of the protections provided by federal law include:

• Workers must be paid minimum wage and overtime (if not exempt);
• Restrictions on the employment of child farm workers between ages 12 and 16;
• Working conditions must be sanitary including toilets, hand-washing facilities, potable drinking water and information regarding good hygiene practices; and
• Housing and transportation must meet certain standards.

If you are an agricultural worker and have any questions about your rights and what to expect from your employers or if you believe you have been treated unfairly by an employer, please contact the Atlanta employee’s rights lawyers Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP.