4th Amendment Ruling

4th Amendment Ruling

4th Amendment Ruling

I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.

Washington Farm Labor Association’s Dan Fazio does not expect the recent ruling by a federal judge stating that 4th amendment rights do not extend to fields and orchards, which came about as a result of a dispute last month between the Blue Mountain Farms of Burbank and the U.S. Department of Labor over worker interviews, will become precedent, but there’s still the question as to whether the agency even has the right to enter any building now like a packing house. 

FAZIO: The Department of Labor has a law that says its agents can enter any business at any time and question workers. There’s a long line of cases that says that these types of inspections need to be reasonable in time, place and scope, and that’s exactly what the judge ruled here. In fact, the judge pretty much ruled that the Department of Labor’s law was unconstitutional.

So, what does this mean for agencies like the Department of Labor?

FAZIO: For example, they should check in at the office and be escorted down to the fields, and if they want to talk to workers, the farmer should provide a private place outside the field for them to speak with the workers in private. That’s what most farmers want to do and most farmers even allow workers to stay on the clock during these kinds of interviews.

There is help for farmers dealing with such situations.

FAZIO: The good news is WAFLA has a management briefing posted on our website – www.wafla.org. It tells farmers how they should respond in the case of a DOL wage and hour audit.  I also think that the agency is going to want to follow these simple common sense procedures that we’ve outlined as well. They don’t want to be running into court every time they have to do an inspection. 

Back after this.

I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Ag Information Network. 

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