Agriculture is an incredibly important part of the economy in the United States. It is also an industry that requires workers to be exposed to sometimes harsh or changing temperatures, hours spent in the sun, and long hours or work periods.
Lawmakers in California have realized the importance of farm workers, and have detailed specific wage and employment laws to ensure that employees are protected and treated fairly. Agricultural workers in California are protected by the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Protection Act, the Wage and Hour Division, and California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA).
At For All Workers, we help farm workers understand their legal rights under California’s wage and hour laws. If you have been treated unfairly, have not been compensated as you should be, or have experienced harassment or discrimination, contact us today.
California Laws for Farm Workers
The wage and hour rules for the agriculture industry are a bit different than for most industries in California. For farm workers, the basic rules consist of:
- Farm workers are entitled to minimum wage, which is currently $12 per hour.
- Farm workers are entitled to overtime pay, but only after they work 9.5 hours in a single day, or 55 hours in a single week.
- Farm workers are entitled to proper classification as an “employee” or an “independent contractor”.
If you are hired as a seasonal or temporary worker, be careful that you understand any agreements before signing them. These agreements may impact whether you are classified as an “employee” or an “independent contractor”, which may affect your wages, tax liability, and eligibility for benefits.
- Farm workers are entitled to a discrimination and harassment free environment, and should be free from punishment or retaliation if they file a claim (California Fair Employment and Housing Act, FEHA).
- Most agricultural employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance on all employees.
You should also be aware that your position as a farm worker may require you to go through a mandatory sexual harassment training program. Since the #metoo movement gained momentum, California law has been working to expand sexual harassment training to be mandatory for any business with more than five employees. Previous laws required training for businesses with more than 50 employees.
Help for California Farm Workers
Employers who do not follow these laws and regulations should held accountable. California law has strict penalties for employers who misclassify workers, fail to pay them appropriately, do not offer appropriate benefits, or are harassed. In many of these cases, the employer is required to compensate you, and will be required to pay penalties. Some cases result in criminal action as well.
If you are a farm worker and believe that your employer has violated your rights, contact For All Workers to speak with our wage and employment attorney.