Though working in the agricultural industry may not be a dream job for many Michigan residents, it can often help individuals make ends meet. That is, if employers pay workers their fair wages. Unfortunately, wage theft runs rampant in the agricultural industry, particularly for individuals who work in fields harvesting produce.
The U.S. Department of Labor categorizes the agricultural industry as a low wage, high violation industry. This means that workers are already making a low wage but are also commonly facing wage violations, such as improper compensation or unpaid overtime. In the last two decades, reports indicate that $65 million in wages went unpaid to approximately 150,000 employees.
Reportedly, many people who work in this industry are Hispanic individuals who often do not have their legal paperwork in order to live in the United States. Unfortunately, these workers may feel less able to speak up about the violations because they fear that they will face repercussions for their lack of legal immigration status. Though employers can face fines of up to $1,000 for each wage violation, improper compensation continues to be a problem.
Though it can be difficult to speak out against an employer, workers in Michigan and elsewhere have a right to a fair wage. If individuals believe that they are not being paid for overtime hours, are not receiving minimum wage, are not being paid for hours worked or are otherwise facing wage theft, they may want to look into their legal options. Having an advocate on their side could help negatively affected workers better understand how they can move forward and pursue the compensation they deserve.