Farm laborers are vastly underappreciated and underrepresented in many states of our country. This was proven to be true prior to a ruling in New Mexico in June of 2015. The New Mexico Court of Appeals heard a case dealing with workers compensation for those who cultivated crops from farm land versus those who processed the crops for distribution. Those who processed the crops were covered under the New Mexico workers compensation laws while those who were actually cultivating and harvesting the crops were not. This was the case despite the fact that often these workers are standing side by side on the same farms or ranches.
The New Mexico Court of Appeals found that this situation was unconstitutional. Their statement was that the distinction came down to nothing but their job title and was “seemingly without purpose or reason”. This is especially true when one considers how much physical labor goes into each of these jobs and the chances for one getting hurt in one way or another on a farm or ranch. The Court found that there was little to no difference between the two job categories when it came to whether or not they should be covered by workers compensation laws and so the different treatments were eliminated. We are glad that New Mexico saw that those working on a farm, despite what their specific job titles may be, should be eligible for compensation in the event of being hurt while on the job.
In North Carolina, most businesses with three or more permanent employees, regardless of full or part time, need to provide workers compensation to those who work for them. Agricultural operations, however, are held under slightly different laws than the rest of the employers. This means that those who work on farms are not held under the same requirements and do not always receive compensation in the same way as others. In North Carolina, agricultural employers need to have ten or more full time non-seasonal workers in order to be held to workers compensation laws in the state.
Here at Collier, we always want to help you get what you deserve. Much like this recent ruling in New Mexico, we are always happy to hear about any victory for workers in regards to their compensation being fair and equal.