(All farmworkers have these rights, even if they do not have immigration papers.)
Minimum Wage — For each day, you must be paid an average of at least $8.44 for each hour worked, even if the work is being done on a piece rate. $8.44 per hour is the New Jersey Minimum Wage.
For example, if you work 10 hours in a day, you must be paid at least $84.40 for your work that day (10 x $8.44 = $84.40), even if you could not pick enough to earn that much under your contract.
If you have been promised a wage higher than $8.44 per hour, you have a right to that higher wage.
The person who pays you is required to give you a written statement of your rate of pay, the number of hours you worked in the week, and, if you are working a piece-rate contract, how many units you picked.
Keep Records — To make sure that you are getting paid all the money you are owed, you need to keep records of how many hours you work each day. Make notes of the date and the times that you start and stop working each day. If you are working on a piece-rate contract, you should also keep a record of how many units you pick each day.
Purchasing Items From Your Employer — If the farmer or the crew leader sells you food, transportation, or other products, it is illegal for them to make a profit from those sales if you are left with less than $8.44 per hour after making such purchases from them. For example, if they sell you a meal that only costs them $2.00 to make, then they should not charge you more than $2.00 for the meal.
The farmer or crew leader is not allowed to require you to purchase meals or other products from them. Keep records of anything that you buy from the farmer or the crew leader. Farmers and crew leaders are not supposed to charge farmworkers for housing in New Jersey.
H2A Contracts — If you are working on an H2A contract, and have had to pay recruitment fees, visa fees, or other transportation fees, this may be a violation of your minimum wage rights.
Worker Injury Benefits — If you get injured on the job, or if the job makes you sick, the farmer is required to have an insurance policy to pay for your medical treatment. They also have to compensate you if you have to miss more than seven days of work or if the injury is permanent. It is important to tell your employer right away if you get injured or sick.
Pesticides — Many farms spray their fruits and vegetables with pesticides, which can be poisonous and make workers sick. The farmer should provide you with information about the types of pesticides being used at the farm, where and when pesticides will be sprayed at the farm, how to protect yourself from pesticides, and how to get medical help if pesticides make you sick.
Health and Safety in the Field — The farm is supposed to provide cool drinking water, bathrooms, and handwashing facilities to workers in the fields. Workers must be given as many breaks as they need to get water and use the bathroom. The heat can make workers very sick, and it is important to drink water frequently when it is hot outside.
Right to Organize — Farmworkers in New Jersey have the right to join together to organize, discuss as a group, and bargain with their employer about wage rates and conditions of work. It is illegal for an employer to fire workers who try to do this. CATA, the Farmworker Support Committee, can assist workers with information about these rights and can be contacted at 1-800-989-2282.
Labor Camp Housing — Farmworkers have many other rights, including rights to safe and clean farm housing in good repair.
Other Services — Other services are available, including farmworker health clinics (609-567-0200), migrant education for youth and young adults (856-468-6530 ext. 1053), migrant Head Start programs for very young children and adult employment and training services (1-800 624-1432).
If you have questions about your rights, or you would like to file a complaint because your rights have been violated, call:
Legal Services of New Jersey, Farmworker Project
Toll-Free: (866) 576-5327
This information last reviewed: Feb 15, 2015