Saturday, August 29, 2020

Harris on Unconscionability in Worker Training and the Right to Job Quality

Jonathan Harris has a twofer of new pieces posted on SSRN, both of which are definitely worth checking out.

The first, Unconscionability in Contracting for Worker Training, 72 ALA. L. REV.  __ (forthcoming 2021), provides a really interesting take on worker training--with the added bonus of contract law thrown in! He did a great presentation on this at SEALS recently, and for those of you on appointments committees it's also his job talk. The abstract:

Despite urgent calls for retraining and upskilling workers amidst the threat automation poses to many existing jobs, a forty-year-long reduction in public and private worker training programs means that some firms offer training only with contractual strings attached. This Article exposes the dangers of these conditional training contracts and proposes the law of unconscionability as a more effective framework for legal challenges than the statutory-based claims more commonly advanced by plaintiffs.

The second piece is Is There a Right to Job Quality? Reenvisioning Workforce Development (with Livia Lam), 11 CALIF. L. REV. ONLINE 339 (2020), which provides a timely look at "quality work." The abstract:
The coronavirus crisis has led to the unemployment of millions of workers and exposed a labor market that is full of poor-quality jobs. Policymakers intuitively resort to upgrading worker skills as a workforce response to the pandemic; however, the problem isn’t with retraining. The nation’s workforce development system is in shambles. It lacks appropriate accountability mechanisms to ensure workers are matched to decent work and instead steers training for any in-demand job including those that offer low pay and poor working conditions. Enabling the changes needed requires a new legal regime that establishes a right to training for a quality job.
Jeff Hirsch

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