Essential Services for Colorado’s Farmworkers

Essential Services for Colorado’s Farmworkers

Everyone should be able to work with dignity and access resources that better their working conditions and lives. However, Colorado farmworkers’ right to access essential services where they work and live was under threat. The agribusinesses who challenged that right dismissed their lawsuit after our clients intervened.

Farmworkers – like all workers – should be able to access the basic services that improve quality of life for themselves, their families, and their communities.  However, agricultural workers tend to be isolated. Many live in employer-owned housing or migrant labor camps on or near the farm where they work, far from nearby towns or services. This makes it difficult for farmworkers to access essential service providers like doctors, teachers, clergy members, bank tellers, and attorneys, creating obstacles to a basic quality of life.

A 2021 Colorado farmworker rights bill ensures, among other provisions, that farmworkers can access these essential service providers. But several agricultural employers filed a lawsuit challenging that right, arguing that workers’ access to essential services violates employers’ property rights. On behalf of Colorado Legal Services, Public Justice, Towards Justice, and Farmworker Justice intervened in the lawsuit to defend the constitutionality of the provisions ensuring access to vital services for farmworkers. Colorado Legal Services Migrant Farm Worker Division represented an anonymous, individual farmworker in the same legal action.

Without the provisions in the farmworker bill of rights, farmworkers would be denied access to basic services. For example, the anonymous farmworker missed school programs, meetings with teachers, and visits to the doctor because she could neither leave work on her break nor invite her doctor or her child’s teachers to visit her where she lives. CLS, which provides legal services to agricultural workers on issues including wage theft, workplace safety, human trafficking, sexual harassment, and immigration, has historically faced challenges accessing migrant workers at labor camps.

After our intervention, the agribusinesses dropped their challenge to the provisions in the farmworker bill of rights guaranteeing farmworkers’ access to key services where they work and live. This means that Colorado Legal Services and other essential service providers will be able to continue their critical work without threats of violence and intimidation.

Trial Briefs

Skip to content