WASHINGTON – Despite their critical role in the economy, farmworkers too often face unpaid wages, unsafe transportation to and from worksites, and substandard housing conditions.
The U.S. Department of Labor will mark National Farmworker Awareness Week, from March 26 to April 2, with a broad effort by its Wage and Hour Division to improve compliance among the nation’s agricultural employers. The effort includes a virtual agricultural seminar, “Nourishing Equity and Cultivating Compliance,” from April 5 to 7, offering sessions about federal laws governing employment and their enforcement, for industry employers, workers, farm labor contractors and other stakeholders. The division’s regional offices will also present a series of related outreach events across the country as part of the effort.
Register to attend Nourishing Equity and Cultivating Compliance seminar.
Specifically, the seminar will review the Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act, agriculture and child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as H-2A and Field Sanitation requirements. Topics such as equity, retaliation and human trafficking in the agricultural sector will also be discussed.
Earlier this month, the Wage and Hour Division published resources to help combat retaliation against workers who assert their rights and, in January, the agency announced its commitment of resources, collaboration with law enforcement agencies and outreach to combat labor trafficking.
“National Farmworker Awareness Week should remind all of us of the essential role these workers play in feeding us, our families and our communities,” said Acting Wage and Hour Division Administrator Jessica Looman. “It also serves to inspire us to expand our outreach and strengthen our enforcement efforts to ensure all agricultural workers receive the wages they are due and are protected from retaliation for exercising their rights.”
In fiscal year 2021, the department recovered $8.4 million in back wages for more than 10,300 agricultural employees and assessed employers with more than $7.3 million in civil monetary penalties.
For more information about farmworker rights, how to file a complaint, MSPA, H-2A and other laws enforced by the division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Calls can be answered confidentially in over 200 languages, regardless of immigration status. Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including an Agricultural Compliance Assistance Toolkit.
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