Legal Services for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers

Migrant Legal Aid believes that human dignity and equal rights must be protected for vulnerable members of society.

In Michigan, migrant, seasonal, and agricultural workers are essential to our community. There are over 90,000 migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families in Michigan. However, they often suffer humiliating and degrading treatment, including discrimination, hate crimes, hostile work environments, and racial profiling.

We help our community protect migrant and seasonal farmworkers and ensure equal rights for these workers and their families. MLA offers programs and provides legal services to combat discrimination against migrants.

“It’s ironic that those who till the soil, cultivate and harvest the fruits, vegetables, and other foods that fill your tables with abundance have nothing left for themselves.”

How We Help

Our experienced attorneys help farmworkers and their families protect, assert and defend their rights. In addition to litigation services, we work on policy and advocacy, and education of workers and community members through our extensive outreach program: a mobile service with weekly visits to labor housing sites.

Safe Transportation

Migrant Legal Aid educates migrants about transportation rights, and the rules and responsibilities while driving in Michigan. We assist with driver’s license applications for eligible workers, provide educational material and connect workers with community services related to transportation needs.

Wage Theft

Our attorneys explain and enforce the state and federal wage protections laws for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and food workers, provide education and advocacy, and when appropriate, pursue fair wage and working conditions through class and/or collective actions in state and federal courts. We also use the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and other laws to assert and defend our clients’ rights to fair pay practices and working arrangements.
Safe Housing

Safe Housing

Unlike traditional housing and rental units, the safety standards for migrant housing are less stringent and minimally enforced in comparison to urban housing. Migrant Legal Aid’s direct mobile outreach to the labor housing sites, and its referrals to state inspectors, help monitor the real-time conditions of housing and provides early crisis intervention for dangerous conditions like unsound structures, rodent and pest infestations, overcrowding, unlicensed units, sanitary and hygienic deficiencies, safe and potable water, and protection from wrongful and retaliatory eviction for exercising their right to complain about poor conditions or treatment.
Bike to Caledonao

Child Labor

Employment laws that protect child workers in other industries, like office work, retail, and hospitality, do not exist for child farmworkers, who by law can legally work as young as 12 years old. We advocate for the rights of child workers, having represented workers as young as 4 years old, with wage claims and child labor violations. We also aid families with school-related issues, such as obstacles and challenges while enrolling children in daycare/school, transferring school credits, signing up for lunch programs, finding childcare, maternal support, and other supportive services.
Family South Bend

Crew Leader Problems

Labor brokers, known as crew leaders or farm labor contractors, are often the cause of labor concerns and the conduit to unfair employment practices. Migrant Legal Aid provides the first line of triage and defense for abusive labor brokers and joint employers.  
Fair Labor

Labor Contracts

Our team helps protect workers’ rights: standing up against unfair labor practices, unscrupulous farm labor contractors, violations in the workers’ contracts, and protecting the working arrangement. For example, if a worker is not given the number of work hours promised (in the contract or working arrangement), Migrant Legal Aid helps hold the contractor/grower/employer accountable under the law, using class and collective actions (lawsuits) to stop large-scale abuses and bait-and-switch tactics.  

Human Trafficking / Labor Trafficking

Migrant Legal Aid helps find, identify, document, and rescue victims of labor trafficking. And we assist workers who cooperate with law enforcement—against their traffickers—to receive T visas as victims of trafficking. This work to legalize them extends to their derivatives (eligible family members). We also provide referrals for wrap-around services for trafficking victims, such as social services providers in the areas of healthcare, counseling, housing, and employment.  
farmer in field

Working Conditions

We help enforce laws that protect the safety of the job site and other working conditions for our clients, such as the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act, among others. Our vigilance of visiting labor housing sites, in close proximity to fields, and speaking directly with workers in their native language helps ensure minimum standards for the work environment. Our outreach and education teams monitor conditions, educate workers, listen to concerns, and spot legal issues for our attorneys. They also make referrals as needed, and follow up with repeat visits as needed.


Protecting Jobs

Migrant Legal Aid helps workers correct unfair or unsafe working and living conditions, empowering them to understand and enforce the laws meant to protect them. This includes the right to be free from a retaliatory firing, sudden eviction from employer-provided housing, or other adverse employment action for having made a complaint to Migrant Legal Aid or other entity. With adequate knowledge of one’s rights, and attorneys to defend them, migrant and seasonal farmworkers and food workers can feel secure when filing a complaint or asserting their rights.   

Need Legal Advice? Contact Migrant Legal Aid

If you or someone you know has legal issues, questions, or concerns regarding farmworker rights, please don’t hesitate to contact Migrant Legal Aid for help.

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