Your Right to Decent Housing and Working Conditions
Authored By: Legal Aid Services of Oregon
- Read this in:
- Spanish / Español
Law Requires Fair Treatment in Labor Camps
Farm labor camps in Oregon must be registered by the state and meet certain standards. All the terms and conditions (rules) for living in the camp must be written and posted in a visible place. Camp rules are valid only if they are reasonable and are fair to all residents. Camp operators cannot give you false information about the camp. Rent charges that lower your pay below the minimum wage are questionable.
The Camp Must Be Clean
You have the right to live in a clean, safe and healthy place. The government has made minimum health and safety requirements for farm labor camps. There must be enough toilets, showers and sinks, with enough hot and cold water for everyone. If you live in a camp that is not clean or safe, you can call 1-800-321-6742 and have a state agency come inspect it. You can speak to someone there in Spanish. You do not have to give your name but if you do, you can ask them to keep it confidential.
If the housing does not meet certain health and safety standards, or if the conditions are not as good as the operator promised, you can make the him/her fix the problems and maybe even receive money in damages, or not have to pay as much rent until the problems are fixed. If a camp is not registered and you have problems with it, you can get payment for the damage caused by the housing problems, or $500, whichever is more.
You Can Have Visitors in the Labor Camp
You have the right to invite any person to the camp for a visit. A camp operator cannot kick you out of the camp, fire you, or change your job or salary because you invited someone into the camp. If this happens you can sue him/her in court to let you back in the camp, give you your job back, pay you for damages you suffered and pay additional fines as well. People from legal services, representatives from churches, government officials, doctors, teachers, health and safety inspectors, and any person you invite has the absolute right to enter the camp.
You Can Leave the Camp and Quit Your Job When You Want
Even if you owe money to the camp operator or other employer, you can quit your job and leave the camp whenever you want. If anyone detains you in a camp and keeps you from going where you want until you pay a debt, s/he is breaking the law and you should call the police immediately.
Nobody Can Kick You Out of Your Housing Without Completing the Legal Process
First, the operator has to give you a written "eviction" notice to leave. S/he must then go get a court order to make you leave. You do not have to leave unless the judge signs an order requiring you to, and you will have the opportunity to tell the judge why you should not be evicted. This whole process can take some weeks. You cannot be kicked out for demanding your legal rights and it is illegal for an operator to use force, or threaten to use force, to remove you. It is also illegal for the operator to call the police to remove you without a court order to do so. You cannot be arrested for staying in your housing when an operator has demanded that you move. If anyone has threatened you with an eviction notice, you should talk to a lawyer right away.