People should be able to earn a living without putting their health and safety at risk. If they are injured at work, their employers should be accountable.
Workers’ compensation laws require employers to have insurance to cover job-related injuries or illnesses. However, for decades New Mexico’s agricultural workers were excluded from the protections of the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act. In 2008, the Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of farm workers and organizations serving farmworkers to challenged the exclusion. In 2016, we won a landmark decision from the New Mexico Supreme Court that ruled that the exclusion of farm and ranch laborers from workers’ compensation was discriminatory and violated the state constitution. Since the ruling, we have been working with community partners to ensure agricultural employees can exercise their right to receive workers’ compensation. We continue to monitor remaining barriers they have to workers’ compensation.
Many agricultural workers are still excluded from basic health and safety protections. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspects hazardous working conditions and protects workers from unsafe practices. Yet most agricultural workers are excluded from OSHA’s protections.