Flashback – From The Harvester, November 1976

Know YOUR rights as an employer

(The following are excerpts from a 1976 Harvester article, which, with minor changes, was taken from the May 1976 issue of the American Fruit Grower)

Farmers are facing a tremendous increase in bureaucratic problems and they must be aware of their rights and the technical aspects of the law in order to protect themselves. Many government agencies, plus many social welfare agencies, are involved today in grower issues.

They want to tell farmers how to run their business. Some of them are scrupulous, hard-working people, and some of them are not, or have unscrupulous people working for them. You need to know the rules to protect yourself against these kinds of people, so we list here some basic rules you can go by:

– Don’t get mad. Keep your cool. You have to cope with the situation, but you won’t do it well if you get mad.

– Keep paper and pencil with you constantly. If anybody comes to your farm and starts asking questions about your business, ask for their identification and copy it all down. Then ask what they want.

–If they want to talk to you and you are busy, make an appointment. You do not have to stop what you are doing to accommodate them immediately. They have no right to interrupt your work day.

– Keep good books and records. These are your first line of defense. If you or your wife can’t keep books, hire an accountant or go to school to learn how to do it.

– If someone comes on the farm and asks where your workers are, ask them, “Why? Who are you? Why do you want to know?” They are not allowed to go into the fields and interfere with what the workers are doing, no matter who they are. You do not have to put up with that interference.

–Record everything unusual that happens on your farm. In effect, keep a diary. This need not be elaborate or a burden, but if there are unusual visitors around, or the workers get in a fight, or throw produce, make a note of it … who was involved and what was the result. Make a note of the harvest … how well your pickers are doing and if you’re getting a saleable product.

– Post every notice that is supposed to posted where employees can read it. It’s not that big a deal … do it.

– Who can come into your fields? The Department of Labor and OSHA — that’s all. If a lawyer comes in and says he wants to see your books, tell him no. Just because he’s a lawyer doesn’t mean he has a right to your books. If he threatens to sue you, make threats of your own. What’s a threat?

Read the entire Harvester article here.

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