Colorado farm workers have access to workers’ compensation — no matter their status

Jun 08 2016

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 167 agricultural workers suffer an injury severe enough to keep them from working every single day. Yet, even with that disheartening statistic, many states do not require farm employers to provide workers’ compensation for migrant workers. Even in states like Colorado that do require workers’ compensation, many workers are afraid to come forward and ask for workers’ compensation after a work injury, some because they are undocumented. Others are afraid they won’t get the money they need to support their families.

We need to work together as a society to ensure these workers get financial help. At our law firm, we are dedicated to ensuring migrant and temp workers know their rights. We provide a comfortable atmosphere where people from anywhere — the U.S., Mexico or any other country — and with any immigration status can feel safe to tell their story.

If you are a migrant or temporary farm worker in Colorado, here’s what you should know:

1) Were you injured on the job? Is your injury severe enough that you won’t be able to work? You are entitled to workers’ compensation.

In Colorado, temporary agricultural workers have the same access to workers’ compensation benefits as permanent workers. This is true whether you work at a typical agricultural farm or a vineyard, orchard or other fruit farm. Employers who do not carry workers’ compensation insurance are breaking the law. If you were injured on the job and you cannot work because of that injury, you can apply for workers’ compensation benefits.

If you work outside of Colorado, your state may not require employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance to migrant workers. Federal law requires agricultural employers to disclose whether workers’ compensation is provided.

2) Workers of any immigration status — legal or not — are entitled to workers’ compensation.

Are you concerned about your status? Don’t hesitate to speak with a lawyer to learn your options. Your discussions with your attorney are privileged and confidential.

3) Your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. It is against the law.

We have heard stories of employers who have threatened farm workers for filing workers’ comp claims or simply reporting their injury. This is illegal. If your employer has threatened retaliation, speak with a lawyer.

To start your workers’ compensation claim, you must give your employer written notice of your injury. Your employer will file your workers’ compensation claim. If it fails to do so, you can file it yourself (with the Colorado Division of Workers’ Compensation). You may be able to receive compensation for your doctor bills, some of your lost wages and any permanent condition.