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Crop and Orchard Liens for Agricultural Workers

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project - CLEAR Intake Line LSC Funded
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Washington State law gives each worker in agriculture (orchards and other agriculture) the right to place a lien on the crop on which he or she worked, to ensure that when the crop is sold, wages still due will be paid directly to the worker. #2915EN


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Crop Liens

Washington State law gives workers in agriculture the right to place a lien on the crop on which you worked to recover unpaid wages.

You must file a crop lien with the Department of Licensing (DoL) within 40 days of YOUR last day of work.

If you send a correct notice of the crop lien to the buyer of the crop, or to the packing shed, when the crop sells, the crop buyer or packing shed must pay you your wages instead of paying that money to the seller of the crop.  If you have a valid lien and give the correct notice, but you do not get your wages when the crop sells, you may sue the packing shed or crop buyer to recover wages from the proceeds of the crop's sale.

If you get your wages after filing the lien, you must release the lien within twenty days of getting your wages.  If you do not release the lien, you may have to pay any costs incurred by the owner of the crop because you did not release the lien.  If you file a lien that you do not have the right to file, you may have to pay a penalty.

Orchard Liens

Washington State law gives you the right to record a lien on orchard lands to recover unpaid wages for work pruning, spraying, cultivating, or caring for an orchard. 

You must record the lien with the county auditor's office within 40 days after the last day of work for each season you have done such work.

If you have recorded a valid orchard lien but do not get the wages due you, you have the right to ask a court to sell the land to pay you your wages.  You must petition the court within eight months after recording the orchard lien.

If you get your wages after filing the lien, you must release the lien. 

Talk to a Lawyer

If your employer does not pay you for work in agriculture, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.  Even if your employer promises to pay you, you should still talk to a lawyer right away. You must file a lien within 40 days.  Preparing a crop or orchard lien is often the best way to recover unpaid wages.

For more information:

Northwest Justice Project

Columbia Legal Services

Wenatchee:    1-888-201-1021

Wenatchee:    1-800-572-9615

Yakima:           1-888-201-1018

Yakima:           1-800-631-1323

CLEAR: 1-888-201-1014

Kennewick:     1-888-201-9735




Last Review and Update: Nov 06, 2014