Colorado Agribusinesses Dismiss Challenge to Workers’ Rights Statute

Colorado Agribusinesses Dismiss Challenge to Workers’ Rights Statute

For Immediate Release: February 27th, 2023

Media Contact:
Masha Vernik,

Colorado Agribusinesses Dismiss Challenge to Workers’ Rights Statute

Federal lawsuit seeking to deny farmworker access to essential services dropped by the agribusinesses who brought it

In a victory for Colorado farmworkers, on Friday, February 24th, Colorado agribusinesses dismissed the case they had filed in federal court seeking to invalidate a Colorado law granting farmworkers the right to meet with essential service providers like doctors, lawyers, teachers, and consular officials. The dismissal of the suit will ensure service providers can meet with farmworkers at their homes and workplaces to continue their critical work.

In late 2022, agribusinesses sued the State of Colorado over provisions in a 2021 farmworker rights bill that allow farmworkers to meet with key service providers at the farms where they work and often live, arguing that protecting workers’ access to essential services violates their property rights. Colorado Legal Services, represented by Public Justice, Towards Justice, and Farmworker Justice, and an anonymous farmworker, represented by Colorado Legal Services, intervened and became defendants in the case in order to defend the right of farmworkers to access fundamental services like healthcare, education, and legal help.

The intervenors argued that there was no legal basis for the agribusinesses to seek to invalidate the law in federal court, and that the court should dismiss their claims. Subsequently, the agribusinesses voluntarily dismissed all their claims, in effect acknowledging that their efforts to obtain a sweeping injunction in federal court to invalidate the law were baseless.

Colorado Legal Services’ Migrant Farm Worker Division provides comprehensive legal services to farmworkers on issues including wage theft, workplace safety, immigration, and human trafficking. Because farmworkers live and work in remote areas, CLS meets with them at the farms where they work and often live. Some agribusinesses used the pending lawsuit as an excuse to deny workers and service providers their rights under Colorado’s new farmworker rights law: Since the lawsuit, CLS staff has been harassed while meeting with farmworkers, including being physically threatened with a pistol. The lawsuit’s dismissal prevents further chilling of the law’s hard-won progress towards basic living standards for farmworkers.

“Every person, regardless of where they come from, what kind of work they do, or where they live, should have access to fundamental services like healthcare, education, and legal help,” said Colorado Legal Service Migrant Farm Worker Division Managing Attorney Jenifer Rodriguez. “Agribusinesses were using the lawsuit to spread misinformation and intimidate service workers like us from meeting with farmworkers where they live. Now that it is dismissed, we will be able to continue our critical work without threats of violence and intimidation.”

“Agribusinesses filed this baseless lawsuit to intimidate service providers from meeting with farmworkers. When we challenged them, they ran away,” said Public Justice Food Project Litigation Director David Muraskin. “This confirms their intent was never to secure their rights under the law, but to use the courts for political purposes and demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the legislature’s choice to provide agricultural workers basic protections.”

Read more about the case here.


Colorado Legal Services seeks to provide meaningful access to high quality, civil legal services in the pursuit of justice for low-income persons and vulnerable populations in Colorado. CLS has thirteen offices across the state and several statewide projects including its Migrant Farm Worker Division.

The Public Justice Food Project is the only legal project in the country that is focused solely on dismantling the structures that enable the consolidation of corporate power and extractive practices in our food system and supporting a vision of animal agriculture that is regenerative, humane, and owned by independent farmers. It envisions a future where our food chain results in healthy, empowered communities and sustainable livelihoods and a just animal agriculture system that is transparent and accountable to people, not profit.

Towards Justice is a Colorado-based nonprofit legal organization that advocates for and collaborates with workers and workers’ organizations to build worker power and advance economic justice.

Farmworker Justice is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower migrant and seasonal farmworkers to improve their living and working conditions, immigration status, health, occupational safety, and access to justice.

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