Labor & Employment

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TRLA's Labor and Employment Group represents and advocates for low-income clients in matters relating to labor, employment and farmworker law, and addresses problems and issues within the federal Small Farmers Progam. Attorneys in this Group work on the following teams:

Kathryn Youker, Group Coordinator


TRLA's Employment Team represents low-wage workers in a broad variety of cases, including claims for unpaid minimum and overtime wages; unlawful discrimination and harassment; family, medical, and pregnancy leave (violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, FMLA); workers' compensation; unemployment insurance appeals; human trafficking cases; and other claims under federal and state law. The team also represents workers who have faced retaliation for trying to exercise their rights at work. Along with TRLA's Farm Worker Team, TRLA's Employment Team has recovered millions of dollars in back wages and other compensation for low-wage workers. For more information about the basic rights of workers in Texas, please see TRLA's Fair Pay booklet. The document is also available in Spanish.

Sarah Donaldson, Team Manager


TRLA represents farmworkers with employment problems throughout Texas and operates a branch office in Nashville, Tenn., called Southern Migrant Legal Services (SMLS), which represents farmworkers in Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas as well as Tennessee. The Farmworker Team focuses on the impact of employment law matters on agricultural workers, and enforces their rights to promised wages, safe employer-provided transportation and housing, and safe worksites and working conditions (including protections related to pesticide exposure, heat sickness, and field sanitation). TRLA’s Farmworker Team has earned a national reputation for its aggressive advocacy and use of innovative strategies for achieving significant impact for farmworkers’ rights. This team also performs regular outreach to farmworkers to advise them of their labor protections.  

Daniela Dwyer, Team Manager

Southern Migrant Legal Services (SMLS)

SMLS is a special project of Texas RioGrande Legal Aid based in Nashville, Tenn., that provides free legal services to migrant and agricultural workers in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi as well as Tennessee. SMLS's work concentrates on the employment-related legal problems of migrant farmworkers including but not limited to:

  • Underpayment or nonpayment of wages;

  • Retaliation;

  • Breach of the employment contract or working arrangement (including for H-2A agricultural workers);

  • Employment discrimination;

  • Human trafficking or forced labor;

  • Employer-provided housing and transportation issues.

Caitlin Berberich, Director

Address: 311 Plus Park Blvd, Suite 135, Nashville, TN 37217
Phone (615) 538-0725
Fax (615) 366-3349
Toll Free (866) 721-7828