Farm Worker Rights (FAQ on Working Conditions)
Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)
- Read this in:
- Spanish / Español
If you’re a farm worker in Montana, this article will help you know your rights about:
- Information about your job that your employer must tell you
- Housing on the job
- Field conditions and other rights
What information should I get from my employer?
Your employer or labor contractor must give you a written notice when you are recruited which tells you:
- Where you will work;
- Your wage rate;
- The work that you will do, and the crop that you will pick;
- How long the job will last;
- Whether housing, transportation, or other benefits are offered, and how much they will cost;
- Whether your employer or crew leader will get a commission or other benefit from selling you things like food, clothing or tools;
- Whether there is a strike or work stoppage where you will be working.
If you are recruited to do seasonal agricultural work away from your home your employer or labor contractor must give you this notice. If you live in the area where you work, you are a local agricultural worker. You also have the right to receive this written notice, but you must ask your employer for it. Your employer must provide this notice in your native language (for example, Spanish).
The employer is not allowed to discriminate against workers who request this information. If you do not receive this information, ask for it. If you still do not get it, contact Montana Legal Services Association.
What are the laws about housing conditions?
You have the right to live in safe and decent housing that meets federal and state standards. This means that farm worker housing or camps must be inspected and certified before workers move in.
Inspection certificates should be posted where you can read them.
If you are housed in dirty, dangerous, or inadequate camps by an employer, call Montana Legal Services.
What are the laws about field conditions?
You must be provided the following in the field:
- Cool, clean drinking water with individual cups;
- Sanitary and clean toilet facilities located near the workers;
- Hand washing facilities with water, soap, and single-use hand towels.
You have the right to:
- Work in a place free from hazards that can cause serious injuries. This includes not getting sprayed with or exposed to pesticides or other hazardous chemicals.
- To know which pesticides are being used for the job, the risks of the pesticides, and how to protect yourself.
What other rights do I have?
You also have the right to:
- Live free from harassment and discrimination from police and other public officials. This includes unwarranted vehicle stops and searches. Public officials and private businesses, including employers, may not discriminate against you based on your race, color, gender, or national origin.
- Be free from retaliation or discrimination for exercising your right to complain.
- If you are transported to your job by the employer or by the person who recruited you, the vehicle used to transport you must be safe, insured, and it must meet federal and state government standards.
- To work free from sexual harassment by your supervisors and fellow employees. This includes verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile work environment.
- Montana Legal Services Association provides free legal help for eligible agricultural workers, including foreign workers under the federal H-2A program. Learn more about how to apply for free legal help from Montana Legal Services Association.
- If you qualify for help from MLSA, you may be able to get free legal advice from a volunteer attorney by email using Ask Karla.
- Contact your nearest Self Help Law Center for free legal information and forms.