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Document Type

Notes

Abstract

At the federal and state level, overtime statutes often contain agricultural exemptions. These exemptions do not require farm owners to pay statutorily mandated overtime compensation to farmworkers who work more than the prescribed workweek. In 1960, the Massachusetts legislature enacted its overtime statute, chapter 151, section 1A of the Massachusetts General Laws, containing an agricultural exemption, as part of a larger remedial response to the Fair Labor Standards Act. In 2019, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Arias-Villano v. Chang & Sons Enterprises, Inc. limited the agricultural exemption to only those farmworkers working in harvesting, but not those working in post-harvesting. Following the decision, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards issued an advisory in March 2020 that eroded farmworker protections by expanding the agricultural exemption beyond the limits established in Chang & Sons. Most recently, in 2021, the Fairness for Farmworkers Coalition introduced the Fairness for Farmworkers Act to abolish the agricultural exemption. This Note discusses the legislative intent of Massachusetts’s chapter 151, section 1A and the implications of the recent advisory. Additionally, this Note reviews the current landscape of state-level agricultural exemptions, particularly New York’s newly enacted Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act (FLFLPA). Using the FLFLPA as a reference point, this Note argues that the Massachusetts legislature should adopt the Fairness to Farmworkers Act and abolish the agricultural exemption to better protect farmworkers.

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