Agricultural Employment Law: Capitalizing on Industry-Specific Laws, Avoiding Penalties

Wage-Hour, Immigration, Migrant Workers, and Specific Application of General Employment Law Principles

A live 90-minute CLE webinar with interactive Q&A

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

1:00pm-2:30pm EST, 10:00am-11:30am PST

Early Registration Discount Deadline, Friday, November 22, 2019

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE webinar will equip counsel to recognize and address employment law issues affecting clients engaged in agriculture. These range from general employment statutes such as State and Federal wage and hour laws, occupational safety and health, and discrimination and harassment complaints to more industry-specific issues such as visas for nonimmigrant farm labor and protections specific to migrant and seasonal agricultural workers.


The agriculture industry is subject to the full range of federal and state employment laws, where errors can lead to severe penalties and liability. But agricultural employers, and those who advise them, also must deal with more esoteric matters such as the H-2A visa regulations governing nonimmigrant alien workers and the Migrant and Seasonal Workers Protection Act (MSPA), which prescribes detailed requirements for employer-provided housing, subsistence, and travel. H-2A and MSPA have been frequently invoked in public interest class-action lawsuits targeting agricultural employers, and even entire sectors of the industry. This webinar will help the general practitioner recognize and anticipate these issues for clients engaged in agriculture.

While there are some overtime and wage exemptions for employees and employers engaged in agricultural work, and others specifically applicable small farms, what activities are considered “primary” or “secondary” agriculture can be hotly debated and have given rise to crippling assessments for back wages. Additional back-wage issues can arise when a farm operation pays workers on a piece-rate basis or takes deductions from worker wages for employer-provided meals, lodging, or other facilities. These, too, can produce large awards when mistakes are made simply in the manner – not necessarily the amount – of the workers’ pay.

Agricultural employers also encounter immigration and visa issues. While all employers are under a duty to verify every worker’s eligibility to work in the United States, agricultural workers frequently are recruited and hired through the specialized H-2A visa programs which are tightly regulated and administered by the U.S. Department of Labor.

This panel of experienced employment lawyers is well-versed in the details of agricultural employment law and will discuss these issues in the context of both compliance and litigation.



  1. Overview: scope of "agriculture business"
  2. Wage/hour issues in agriculture
    1. Application of general wage/hour principles
    2. General exceptions
    3. Small farm exceptions
    4. Impact of piece-rate pay
    5. Deductions
    6. Employment of minors
  3. Immigration/citizenship issues
    1. Application of general principles
    2. The H-2A visa program for nonimmigrant labor
    3. Migrant worker requirements and protections
    4. Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative
  4. Employment discrimination and harassment complaints
    1. Title VII
    2. State programs
    3. Allegations of favoring foreign workers
  5. Recordkeeping
  6. Litigation examples


The panel will review these and other critical matters for agri-employers:

  • How do employment laws apply to agriculture employers?
  • How do farms differ from other employers?
  • What special immigration issues and programs apply to employers of farm labor?
  • What are the risks from government enforcers? From private-sector lawsuits?
  • What must an employer do to identify and comply with laws and regulations applicable to agricultural workers?


Starkman, Nicholas
Nicholas Starkman
Counsel/Associate Director of Regulatory Affairs

Mr. Starkman drives strategic recommendations and solutions to meet the business objectives in developing various...  |  Read More

Stine, J. Larry
J. Larry Stine

Senior Principal
Wimberly Lawson Steckel Schneider & Stine

Mr. Stine, enjoys a diverse practice in which he covers a broad range of labor and employment matters. He is the former...  |  Read More

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