Press "Enter" to skip to content

Caroline Doherty

Caroline Doherty

Caroline resides from Greenville, North Carolina and majored in public policy with a minor in global health. She is really passionate about public health and qualitative research. She has worked with farmworkers for a few years now and  envisions working with under-served populations throughout her career. After she graduates from Duke, she plans on getting a master’s degree in public health before going on to medical school. She hopes to work as a physician for a few years before dedicating her life to the creation and implementation of impactful health policy.

Farmworker Perceptions of Living Conditions, Work Safety, and Work Hours

Faculty Advisor: Professor Jay A. Pearson

Abstract: Migrant farmworkers in North Carolina are guaranteed rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the NC Migrant Housing Act. These acts define farmworker work safety conditions, work hours, and living conditions. Previous research has determined that farmworkers in North Carolina live in poor housing, do not get paid overtime, and are not protected against respiratory ailments resulting from pesticide exposure. Research also shows that lack of education, fear of deportation, lack of enforcement, and grower intimidation all factor into farmworkers’ perspectives of their work safety conditions, work hours, and living conditions. This paper aims to understand these perspectives through analyzation of 16 interviews done with farmworkers in eastern NC. NVivo was used to analyze the interviews and identify major themes that inform farmworkers’ perspectives of their work safety conditions, work hours, and living conditions. Lack of knowledge of rights was found to be one of the main factors contributing to farmworkers’ perspectives. This lack of knowledge is directly related to the lack of training that farmworkers receive pertaining to their rights. Another major finding was the sentiment that work and living conditions matter less to farmworkers than the amount of work that is available in each camp. They are willing to put up with substandard conditions if they have a lot of work to do, which correlates to more pay. These results imply that farmworkers are not trained adequately in their rights so there is a lack of demand for improved conditions.