Your Rights Under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project - CLEAR Intake Line
- Read this in:
- Spanish / Español
General information about the laws an employer must follow and the rights of the worker under the MSAWPA.
- What information should my employer give me?
- What information about wages must my employer give me?
- What are the laws about transportation?
- What are the laws about housing conditions?
An employer or labor contractor who recruits you to do seasonal agricultural work away from your home must give you a written notice when they recruit you. The notice must say:
Where you will work
Your wage rate
The work you will do, including the crop you will pick
How long the job will last
If they are offering housing, transportation, or other benefits, and how much they will cost
If your employer or crew leader will get a commission or other benefit from selling you goods like food, clothing, or tools
If you will be working where there is a strike or work stoppage
If you are a local agricultural worker, you have the right to this notice only if you ask for it. Under federal law, your employer must give this info in your native language (for example, Spanish).
The employer may not discriminate against you for asking for this information. If you do not get this information, ask for it. If you still do not get it, contact the Northwest Justice Project Farm Worker Unit or Columbia Legal Services. (Contact info is below.)
Farm workers’ employers must give you a written wage statement, usually a paycheck “stub,” each time they pay you. Keep all your wage statements or other pay records. Your wage statement, or paycheck “stub,” must say:
How much you earned
How many hours you worked
If they paid you by the hour or at a “piece rate” (by the box, bushel, pound, carton, bin)
If they paid you by piece rate, how much you picked, thinned, pruned, and so on
If they took money out of your pay, like income taxes, social security taxes or cash advances, it must say how much they took out and why
The employer’s name, address and phone number
Your wage statement must list and explain any deductions from your wages. The law allows deductions for Social Security and taxes. Sometimes employers take deductions for housing, transportation, tools, and other items. If these deductions lower your wages below the minimum wage, they may be illegal. An employer can only make deductions for loans, housing, transportation or food with your permission.
If your employer or the person who recruited you transports you to your job, the vehicle they use must be, insured, and meet federal and state safety standards.
Farm Worker housing or camps provided by an employer must meet standards set by state and federal law.
Labor camps must be inspected and certified before you move in. Inspection certificates should be posted where you can read them.
If an employer houses you in dirty, dangerous or inadequate camps, call:
The Northwest Justice Project Farm Worker Unit:
Columbia Legal Services:
This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.
This information is current as of March 2018.
© 2018 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial use only.)