What Are Your Rights as a Seasonal Employee?

Seasonal farm employee carrying basket of fruit

Seasonal employees are essential to many sectors of the economy in Virginia and Washington, D.C., from agriculture to hospitality to retail. However, many seasonal employees do not recognize that federal and Virginia employment law affords them certain rights. In some instances, this lack of knowledge is due to an employer’s unwillingness to recognize these rights. A knowledgeable employment law attorney can help you understand how the law protects you and can help you take steps to safeguard your best interests.

Who Is Considered a Seasonal Employee?

Seasonal employees are typically hired to work during peak business periods or specific seasons. These positions are often temporary and may last a few weeks or several months. Examples of seasonal employees include retail workers hired during the holiday season, lifeguards employed during the summer months, and agricultural workers hired during the harvest season.

Workers’ Compensation

Seasonal employees have the right to workers’ compensation benefits if they sustain injuries on the job or develop a work-related illness. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides medical benefits, wage replacement, and other support to employees who are injured or become ill due to their work. Employees, including seasonal employees, do not need to prove anyone is at fault for their injury or illness to recover workers’ compensation benefits.

Most employers in Virginia and D.C. are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If a seasonal employee suffers an injury at work, they should report it to their supervisor or employer as soon as possible and seek medical care. The employer must then file a claim with their workers’ compensation insurer.

It is worth noting that some employers may attempt to misclassify seasonal employees as independent contractors to avoid providing workers’ compensation coverage. However, misclassification is illegal, and seasonal employees who are misclassified may still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Speak to an experienced employment rights or workers’ compensation attorney for help securing the benefits you deserve.

Other Rights of Seasonal Employees

In addition to the right to workers’ compensation benefits, seasonal employees’ rights include the following:

Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay

Seasonal workers are entitled to the same minimum wage and overtime pay as other employees. In Virginia, the minimum wage is $12.00 per hour, and tipped workers are not excluded from this minimum. The minimum wage in the District is currently $17.00 per hour, and it will increase to $17.50 on July 1st, 2024.

All employees must receive overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. It is crucial for seasonal employees to track their hours and ensure they are receiving the correct payment for their work.

Workplace Safety

Employers must provide a safe working environment for all employees, including seasonal workers. This requirement includes providing necessary safety equipment and training, as well as adhering to occupational safety and health standards.

Protection Against Discrimination and Harassment

Seasonal employees are protected by the same anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws as all other workers. This means that employers cannot discriminate against seasonal workers based on factors such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. Additionally, seasonal employees have the right to work in an environment that is free from harassment, including sexual harassment.

Contact Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC

If you are a seasonal employee in Virginia, it is crucial to remember that your rights are just as valid as any other worker. Consulting with an experienced employment law attorney can ensure that you have the support and advocacy you deserve. 

The worker’s rights attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC have been fighting for the rights of seasonal workers in Northern Virginia and the District for over 40 years, and we are ready to stand up for you. Call us today or contact us online for a confidential consultation to discuss the specifics of your situation with a knowledgeable member of our team today.

Posted in: Employment Law