Exposure to Workplace Sexual Harassment among Women and Men Farmworkers in the U.S. and Mexico

Kimberly Y. Prado, Maria Elena Rivera-Heredia, Stephen A. McCurdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


HIGHLIGHTS: Women and men farmworkers reported workplace sexual harassment (WSH). WSH occurred as frequently as daily. Both coworkers and leadership were perpetrators of WSH. ABSTRACT: This study explores experiences relevant to workplace sexual harassment (WSH) in agriculture among men and women farmworkers in California (U.S.) and Michoacán (Mexico). Anecdotal evidence documents women farmworkers having to endure behavioral, verbal, and physical WSH including sexual ogling, degrading language, groping, and requests for sex in exchange for work. We include survey comparisons between men and women in California and Michoacan on WSH among farmworkers. We conducted 197 farmworker surveys (38 men and 59 women in California; 40 men and 60 women in Michoacán). Community advisory boards contributed expertise and input for study strategies, materials, and dissemination. Survey participant ages ranged from 23 to 54 years old. Half worked in Mexico, 68% were married, 80% had children, and 47% had less than 7 years of education. Most farmworkers spoke Spanish and Purhépecha, an indigenous language spoken by the Purhépecha people in Michoacán. We used two strategies to measure WSH exposure in the previous year: (1) direct inquiry-based survey items (asking "Have you ever been the victim of or bystander to workplace sexual harassment?") documenting WSH among women (49%) and men (21%) in California and among women (7%) and men (13%) in Michoacán, and (2) behavior-based WSH items (using explicit examples of WSH behaviors perpetrated against the participant or witnessed by the participant as a bystander) documenting WSH among women (as high as 53%) and men (as high as 45%) in California and among women (as high as 65%) and men (as high as 68%) in Michoacán. Women farmworkers in California reported WSH experiences exceeding those of men. Reported WSH experiences in Michoacán were similar for men and women. Farmworkers identified WSH perpetrators as coworkers more than leadership. The frequency of exposure ranged from daily, weekly, monthly, and up to multiple times a year. Of 46 direct inquiry-based WSH incidents, only one perpetrator was punished, and at least half of all victims said they were forced to change their jobs. The findings of this study inform the development of WSH prevention efforts, such as education tools, support for efforts to facilitate reporting, protections against retaliation for workers, and promoting accountability for perpetrators. This information supports the promotion of policy recommendations and preventive approaches for WSH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-247
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Agricultural Safety and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 21 2021


  • Agricultural worker
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Indigenous
  • Latino
  • Sexual harassment
  • Workplace violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Exposure to Workplace Sexual Harassment among Women and Men Farmworkers in the U.S. and Mexico'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this