Down and Out in Weslaco, Texas and Washington, D.C.: Race-Based Discrimination against Farm Workers under Federal Unemployment Insurance

Journal of Law Reform, Vol. 29:1&2 pp. 177-216

41 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2012

See all articles by Laurence Norton

Laurence Norton

Community Justice Project

Marc Linder

University of Iowa - College of Law

Date Written: 1995

Abstract

This Article explains how federal law excludes half of the nation's farm workers from the unemployment insurance (UI) system. It describes how even those fortunate enough to work in covered employment often lose their benefits when employers use crew leaders who fail to report wages and pay unemployment insurance taxes. This discriminatory treatment of farm workers is then shown to be racially motivated and to have a disproportionate impact on the non-White majority of agricultural workers. Today's partial exclusion of these workers from UI is a legacy of Congress's complete exclusion of farm workers from all New Deal legislation intended to preserve the racist plantation society of the Jim Crow South. Finally, to correct the racial and social injustice of this discrimination, two simple changes in the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) are proposed.

Keywords: unemployment insurance, farm workers

Suggested Citation

Norton, Laurence and Linder, Marc, Down and Out in Weslaco, Texas and Washington, D.C.: Race-Based Discrimination against Farm Workers under Federal Unemployment Insurance (1995). Journal of Law Reform, Vol. 29:1&2 pp. 177-216, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2190667

Laurence Norton

Community Justice Project ( email )

118 Locust Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101
717-236-9486 (Phone)
717-233-4088 (Fax)

Marc Linder (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

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