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Do migrant workers have employee rights?

The growing season is just beginning in America's agricultural industry. Some of the most overlooked workers in America are the migrant workers toiling in the fields planting and harvesting crops. Because many of them are not United States citizens, there is a perception that employment standards don't apply to them, but this is not the case.

The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act provides these seasonal employees with protections. The Act establishes standards for the transportation, housing, wages, record-keeping and disclosures associated with their employment. Farm labor contractors are also required to register with the federal Department of Labor in order to get a certificate of registration.

Those workers who are employed by these contractors to work in the agricultural industry must also register with the Labor Department through regional offices of the state employment service.

Farm labor contractors are defined as individuals who are paid money or otherwise valuable consideration to solicit, recruit, employ, hire and/or transport these seasonal workers and provide them with housing. Agricultural employees, employers and association are exempt from this group.

These laborers and contractors must have proof their registration and be able to show it when asked.

Migrant workers must be paid wages when they are due and receive written and itemized statements of their earnings each pay period. If amounts are deducted, these must be listed, along with the reason for the deduction.

The housing provided to the migrant workers must be in compliance with all state and federal health and safety standards and have the conditions and terms of occupancy posted on-site or given to workers.

Other protections may be available to these workers as well. If a civil rights breach is suspected, a Missouri employment law attorney may be able to resolve the situation for the workers.

Source: Department of Labor, "The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act," accessed March. 27, 2015

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