Complaints of discrimination and retaliation exist in every industry. However, farm workers can be particularly vulnerable to situations of discrimination and retaliation because of their temporary work status or immigration status. All employees, despite their status, are encouraged to report violations of state and federal discrimination laws by their employers.
Seasonal farm workers must be aware that they can bring wage and hour violations and allege discrimination under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the federal Civil Rights Act, or the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). These laws protect employees from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability along with other protected classes.
As part of an in-depth study of farm workers in Texas, researchers at Penn State University interviewed 89 workers and found that 67 out of the 89 perceived that they were victims of discrimination either because they were Latino or because they had suffered an injury on the job. Subjects claimed the discrimination originated either with the supervisor or the farm owner. Many of the workers also felt that the employer was not paying them fairly or equally to other workers. The researchers pointed out that it is crucial to ensure the health of farm workers since they are the ones to handle much of the food we eat.
Immigrant farm workers may be at a higher risk of experiencing discrimination on the job. The data suggested that employees who had limited English skills or more recently arrived in the U.S. were more likely to perceive discrimination or unfair treatment. Farm workers may also have difficulty communicating with supervisors due to a language barrier. This, coupled with the laborious work, puts farm workers at greater risk of suffering a work-related injury. Of those who were injured, many say they were discouraged from reporting the incident and were told instead to work through the injury.
Many Victims of Discrimination Remain Silent
When farm workers or other workers perceive that they are in a position of less power, either because of their immigration status, their temporary worker status, or their lack of proficiency in English, they are more unlikely to file claims of unfair treatment against their employers for fear of retaliation. However, the same laws that protect employees from discrimination or wage and hour violations also have provisions that protect employees from retaliation after a complaint is made. Therefore, if an adverse employment action, like firing or demotion, happens shortly after an employee makes a complaint of discrimination or a wage and hour violation, the employee can also allege that he or she was a victim of retaliation in connection with the original complaint.
If you have concerns that a discrimination claim will lead to retaliation or harassment, contact an attorney before you make any formal complaints against your employer. If an employer is aware that there is an attorney involved, he or she could be less likely to retaliate against you since the lawyer can also add claims of retaliation onto any original claim that is filed in court.
Middletown Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Advocate for Victims of Discrimination and Retaliation
Middletown employment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. can thoroughly assess any claims against your employer to help avoid retaliation or assist if retaliation occurs. Contact our offices in Marlton or Red Bank, New Jersey where we serve clients throughout the state. Call 732-842-6500 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online.