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Salary theft against agricultural workers reaches millions of dollars each year

One of the most common violations within temporary agricultural work in the United States is salary theft. Salary theft not only implies lack of payment for work performed, but also lack of payment for hours worked, including extra hours, when the salary that was promised during the hiring process is not respected, when the employer makes wrongful pay deductions or does not reembolse costs related to travel, visa, or recruitment. 

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), in the last two decades, this violation of U.S. labor law has equated approximately $65 million in unpaid salaries for 150,000 agricultural workers. Beyond salary theft, a tendency to withhold payment is also on the rise, according to data from the DOL. Unpaid salaries increased 44% from 2018 to 2019, from $4.2 million to $6 million. 

Approximately 27% of the Spanish-speaking population works in the agricultural sector. Agricultural workers receive the worst salaries and face serious problems like racial inequality and discrimination. 

If you are an agricultural worker and your employer has omitted hours, weeks, or months from your salary, this can represent a legal violation of your rights as an employee. It is recommended that you look for legal counsel as soon as possible to figure out what your options are and how you can confront this violation. Keep in mind that labor laws include deadlines for retrieving stolen wages. 

If you have concerns related to this topic, you can consult Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM). All of the services are completely free and confidential. 

Call for free from the United States: 1.855.234.9699

Call for free from Mexico: 800.590.1773


This blog should not be considered or taken as legal advice. Consult with an attorney for legal counsel regarding your specific situation.