Farmworkers have historically been excluded from labor protections, including those that may protect their health and wellbeing. Despite research linking prenatal pesticide exposure to agricultural toxins to a wide range of detrimental health effects and impacts on infants such as pre-term birth, developmental disorders, and lower IQ, farmworkers across California typically work throughout their pregnancies. Farmworkers need leave to avoid pesticide exposure during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but because leave is usually unpaid, it is often not a feasible option for low-wage workers whose families rely on their income to survive. Dar a Luz: Legal Rights for Farmworkers in Pregnancy and Postpartum, a collaboration with the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), will change this reality for thousands of farmworker families in California.
“Dar a Luz,” a commonly used idiom for “giving birth,” translates to “bring to light” – a metaphor for the project’s goal of raising awareness around the health needs and legal rights of farmworkers during pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing.
In 2019, WorkLife Law advocated with California’s Employment Development Department (EDD), which administers the state’s worker-funded State Disability Insurance (SDI), to ensure that farmworkers could access critical paid leave early in pregnancy. Dar a Luz continues this critical effort to support and empower farmworkers who need paid time off work to avoid harmful exposure to agricultural toxins during pregnancy, and the postpartum and nursing period. Dar a Luz will further assess barriers to leave and income replacement and intervene so farmworkers and key stakeholders, such as health care providers and worker advocates, have the knowledge and tools they need to support farmworkers in accessing their legal protections. We seek to disrupt a cycle that profoundly affects the health and wellbeing of this historically excluded community. This project would not have been possible without the generous contribution of The Schmidt Family Foundation.
Farmworkers seeking information on their legal rights may contact the Dar a Luz free legal helpline.