You cannot be forced to work against your will. This is true even if you previously agreed to work or you are being paid or receiving other compensation for your work.
You have the right to be free from abuse in the workplace. You have this right whether or not:
- You have immigration status, or documentation, or you lack documentation;
- You owe a debt to another person or company;
- Another person has power in the U.S. or another country.
It is illegal for anyone to try to force you to work. These actions are illegal:
- Making false promises about working conditions, living conditions, or pay;
- Withholding your wages or bonus as a way of controlling what you do or where you go;
- Taking away your passport, birth certificate, or identification card as a way of controlling what you do or where you go;
- Using threats or forcing you to work to pay a debt;
- Forcing you to work or live in unsafe conditions or withholding access to medical services;
- Threatening to report you to immigration officers as a way of controlling where you go or forcing you to work;
- Forcing or pressuring you into prostitution or other sexual acts;
- Using you for any kind of commercial sexual act (whether or not you have given consent) if you are under 18;
- Threatening that you or your family will be harmed, deported, arrested, or turned over to authorities if you try to leave your employment, complain of mistreatment, report the situation to authorities, or seek help or legal counsel.
If any of these things have happened to you, you may be eligible for the following benefits:
- Visas Available to Victims of Crimes
- Emergency food and shelter
- Emergency medical help
- Translation services
- Counseling and legal help
If you or somebody you know has been forced to work against their will, contact the Farmworker & Immigrant Worker Hotline: 1-800-968-4046.
This information was provided by Farmworker Legal Services (FLS). FLS is a legal aid office with lawyers and other legal staff who give free legal help and referrals to migrant and seasonal farmworkers throughout Michigan.