June 25, 2024

Coalition Sues DOL Over New Farmworker Protection Rule

Seventeen southern states along with the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) and an H-2A employer, have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Labor (DOL). The plaintiffs are challenging the new “Improving Protections for Workers in Temporary Agricultural Employment in the United States” rule, set to take effect on June 28, 2024. The plaintiffs contend that the rule grants H-2A workers collective bargaining rights, thereby exceeding the DOL’s authority and contradicts federal labor law. 

The complaint filed by the Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) on behalf of the coalition claims the rule unlawfully provides H-2A workers with rights akin to those under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), from which agricultural workers have been historically excluded. The plaintiffs assert that this rule unfairly grants foreign workers greater rights than American agricultural workers. 

DOL Enforcement Update 

The DOL recently announced that it will continue to enforce the existing H-2A requirements rules until August 28, 2024, even though the published effective date is June 28, 2024. The revised requirements set out in the Farmworker Protection Rule will apply to H-2A job orders filed on or after August 29, 2024. Due to this delay in enforcement, SLF decided to forego plans to seek a temporary restraining order to immediately halt enforcement of the rule.  

Impact on Growers 

Western Growers members should be aware of the potential implications of this rule and the ongoing legal battle. The enforcement delay offers some additional time to prepare for the changes, but it is essential to stay informed about the progress of the lawsuit and any adjustments to the rule’s implementation. 

For more detailed information and updates about the new rule, members are encouraged to visit the DOL website and follow the case developments closely.