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For decades, the Legal Aid Justice Center has organized alongside and advocated on behalf of migrant workers, from tomato pickers on the Eastern Shore to Christmas tree workers in far southwest Virginia. More recently, our team became a stand-alone program: The Worker Justice Program. While we will continue to zealously advocate on behalf of farmworkers, our work will—over time—expand to support the efforts of other low-wage workers to fight for the pay and treatment they deserve.

Through a mix of community organizing, policy advocacy, and litigation, our program fights alongside and on behalf of workers. Our campaigns range from direct representation and impact litigation on wage and contract claims to H-2A and H-2B visa reform, combatting labor trafficking, advocating for enhanced enforcement and new laws to address health and safety concerns, legislative and administrative policy advocacy for better pay and conditions, and worker coalition-building in rural areas.


Direct Representation and Impact Litigation

Litigating wage and contract violations—among other legal claims—to address violations of law and regulations

Our team zealously advocates in the courts and administrative tribunals to seek redress for wage, contract, and other legal violations on behalf of workers.  Our successes range from sizable settlements in federal court multi-plaintiff actions to state court judgments in individual actions.  We have put money in the pockets of forestry workers, tomato pickers, restaurant staff, construction laborers, and others whose rights were violated by law-evading employers.

Building worker power

Building power alongside workers and rural coalitions to advocate for stronger workplace protections and directly address concerns with communities and employers.

From the Eastern Shore to Southwest Virginia, the Northern Neck, and the Shenandoah Valley, our organizers and community lawyers spent tireless hours listening to deeply felt worker concerns—and then problem-solving alongside the workers and community coalitions to strive for positive change. From direct action to the provision of community resources and policy advocacy work, worker empowerment is growing throughout the Commonwealth in some of its furthest flung regions, with workers and community members as the lead.

Removing racist legal exemptions

Legislative advocacy on behalf of migrant and farmworkers to remove Jim Crow era legal exemptions

We are fighting to remove long-standing legal exemptions rooted in Jim Crow that prevent migrant and farmworkers from being afforded the same protections as other workers throughout the Commonwealth.  To that end, we have led coalitions to strip the state minimum wage and overtime exemptions for farmworkers and visa workers over the last several years.  

H-2A and H-2B visa reform

Work alongside local and national advocates to push for migrant visa reform.

Migrant workers are increasingly coming to the Commonwealth on H-2A and H-2B work visas, which operate under a complicated and flawed set of laws that adversely affect workers. To that end, our team works alongside national and state advocates to push legislators for better legal protections, call attention to poor enforcement by federal and state labor agencies, and advocate for more protective regulations.

Combatting labor trafficking

Combatting labor trafficking throughout the Commonwealth

Our team is on the forefront of combatting labor trafficking in the Commonwealth and has a strong national reputation for blending law and organizing to address forced labor concerns. We do so by building trust with workers, cooperating with federal and state officials, and maintaining a strong team of litigators with trafficking law backgrounds. This approach has led to not just promising labor trafficking investigations, but also attaining one of the largest settlements in the country’s history in a labor trafficking case in federal court on behalf of H-2B migrant workers.

Addressing Health and Safety Concerns

Advocating for enhanced enforcement and new laws to address health and safety concerns

Federal and state health and safety laws are severely lacking for workers around the country and in the Commonwealth. Our team, however, is making tremendous strides in addressing these concerns. Most namely, we led a campaign that resulted in the nation’s first COVID-19 enforceable workplace standards—which were then modeled by other states across the country. We also have campaigns that involve addressing other deeply felt safety needs around the state, including but not limited to substandard housing, pesticides, water testing, and dangerous workplace conditions.

Tomato Camp

A photo essay on a migrant farmworker camp on the Eastern Shore of VA.

Click here to view

Need Help with a workplace issue?

Please visit our GET HELP page first for information on how we may be able to provide assistance.

Explore the sections above for information on your rights and other self-help materials.

Contact the Worker Justice team at:

  • Helpline: 800–269-4717
  • WhatsApp/Call/Text: 434-242-1494
  • Tik-Tok: Trabajadoresagricolasva
  • Facebook:
  • Instagram: trabajadoresagricolasVa
  • Twitter: @tagricolasva

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