Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Samantha Prince now has the final version of her new article, The Shoe Is about to Drop for the Platform Economy: Understanding the Current Worker Classification Landscape in Preparation for a Changed World, up on SSRN and it looks very informative. The abstract:
Whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee is of great significance in many countries, including the United States. This label drives whether a worker is entitled to many protections and benefits, including, minimum wage, overtime, workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, anti-discrimination protection, NLRA protection, etc. The difficulty inherent in accurately classifying workers as either independent contractors or employees cannot be overstated. First, there are so many tests spanning all levels of our government. Second, there are so many ways that people work and with the increased popularity of app-based work, classification becomes even more difficult. Simply, some of the tests have not been working well when applied to precarious app-based work. As a result, policymakers are forced to finally bring these issues to the forefront.
Worldwide policymakers and leaders are implementing changes to protect app-based workers. In the United States, the federal government is evaluating whether these changes in the workforce require changes in national labor and tax laws. While campaigning, President Biden pledged to establish a uniform worker classification test for purposes of all federal labor, employment, and tax laws. Subnational governments – states and cities – are also evaluating and making changes in their policies and laws.
In order to make these decisions, policymakers will need to be familiar with the current landscape of tests and statutes. Policymakers should evaluate the approaches that currently are being used and how they have fared so that they can decide whether to strike out with a novel test or adopt one already in use. Although prior articles have considered worker classification laws, and the benefits associated with various classification approaches, things have evolved so quickly that in some respects most of those articles are at least partially out of date. And, having all of this information in one place is critical for ease in policymaking research and deliberations.
This Article fills the current knowledge gap by providing an up-to-date compendium of the current state of worker classification laws. The Article starts with a segment on instabilities and health issues experienced by app-based workers. Then it covers the latest on worker classification laws around the world including the EU Commission's Proposed Directive. It then turns to tests that the U.S. is using, which include traditional tests and new tests from both the state and city levels. The Article explains how these tests are used and summarizes commentary about the strengths and weaknesses of each of these tests. As national, state, and local policymakers consider how best to move forward in regulating the app-based economy and its workers, they are likely to find the information in this Article useful to their deliberations.
Check it out!
Monday, March 21, 2022
Natalya Shnitser (Boston College) has just posted on SSRN her article "Professional" Employers and the Transformation of Workplace Benefits (39 Yale Journal on Regulation Bulletin 99 (2021)). Here's the abstract:
Workers in the United States depend on their employers for a host of benefits beyond wages and salary. From retirement benefits to health insurance, from student loan repayment to dependent-care spending plans, from disability benefits to family and medical leave, U.S. employers play a uniquely central role in the financial lives of their employees. Yet not all employers are equally willing or capable of serving as such financial intermediaries. Larger employers commonly offer more and better benefits than smaller employers. In recent years, so-called Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) have pitched themselves as a private-sector solution to the challenges traditionally faced by smaller employers. PEOs have pioneered and marketed a “co-employment” model pursuant to which a business and the PEO agree to share certain employer rights and responsibilities, with the PEO taking on all of the human resources matters and the client-employer otherwise retaining control over the business.
While PEOs respond to long-standing challenges faced by smaller employers and have the potential to increase access to workplace benefits, this Article argues that they also introduce new and significant governance concerns that are not adequately addressed by the existing regulatory framework. Empirical evidence suggests that as currently structured, PEOs may not, in fact, provide “Fortune 500” benefits to employees at smaller companies and may instead lock participating employers into costly benefit bundles and expose them to the risk of unpaid employment taxes and health insurance claims. To protect participants in arrangements where PEOs provide key workplace benefits, this Article recommends strengthening and uniformly applying registration, disclosure and oversight requirements for all non-employer intermediaries, including PEOs. In the longer term, comprehensive retirement reform is needed to account for the transformation of workplace benefits in the United States.
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
Michael Duff (Wyoming, en route to SLU) has just posted on SSRN his new article (forthcoming Kentucky L.J.) Fifty More Years of Ineffable Quo?: Workers' Compensation and the Right to Personal Security. I usually edit down abstracts to one paragraph, but one paragraph won't do justice to this critically important article. Here's the full abstract:
During the days of Covid-19, OSHA has been much in the news as contests surface over the boundaries of what risks of workplace harm are properly regulable by the federal government. Yet the original statute that created OSHA—the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970—was not exclusively concerned with front-end regulation of workplace harm. Just over fifty years ago, the same Act mandated an investigation of the American workers’ compensation system, which consists of a loose network of independent state workers’ compensation systems. The National Commission created by the Act to carry out the investigation issued a report of its findings in 1972 and concluded that American workers’ compensation was neither fair nor adequate. The Commission made nineteen “essential recommendations” for the system’s improvement. The federal Department of Labor shifted into high gear to monitor state compliance with the recommendations under implicit, but vague, threat of workers’ compensation federalization if progress was not achieved. In what is perhaps the most interesting part of the story, nothing changed. Today, the Department of Labor no longer monitors workers’ compensation’s attainment of any benchmarks, although some organizations monitor workers’ compensation “trends.”
Lost in discussions of workers’ compensation is any sense of a baseline. Why does this matter? Because workers’ compensation was conceived as a “Grand Bargain” or “quid pro quo,” in which workers surrendered tort rights for adequate statutory benefits. This article contends that the absence of investigation as to whether workers’ compensation benefits are too low has effectively unmoored workers’ compensation from the faintest echoes of the tort rights for which it was exchanged. The article seeks to provoke discussion of what it means, as a matter of both policy and constitutional law, for a state to dispossess injury remedies by converting workers’ compensation from a reasonable substitute remedy for tort to a pale, anti-destitution law relegated to functioning as a form of “welfare.” The article explores the phenomenon of permanent partial disability benefits paid to workers for injuries according to bizarre schedules that are not to any degree based on workers’ lost earning capacity nor on any rational criteria that anyone can identify. Permanent partial benefits—the largest component of workers’ compensation indemnity benefits—are arbitrary.
In its essence this article is about whether state legislatures have carte blanche to annihilate meaningful remedies for workers wrongfully injured in the workplace. Furthermore, to the extent that state legislatures pursue such objectives, the article presses for recognition of a Blackstonian “absolute” right to personal security. Evisceration of remedies not only makes workers poorer, but also leads to their insecurity because they work for actors with insufficient incentives to act safely. The solution to the problem is for legislatures to be more transparent about the relationship between workers’ compensation benefits and foregone negligence remedies—particularly because the original Grand Bargain was struck at a time when negligence affirmative defenses would instantly defeat tort claims, a situation that no longer obtains. The time for benefit inscrutability and ineffability is over.
Well-done, Michael -- I can't agree more.
Saturday, February 5, 2022
From Northeastern University comes word of a conference on April 8, 2022, celebrating the vision and advocacy of labor law scholar Karl Klare.
The conference will be in-person with a live stream for a virtual audience. The four conference panels are titled “Transformative Constitutionalism”, “Unions and Workers (Solidarity Forever)”, “The Law School Classroom (Teaching as a Tool of Progress)”, and “Critical Legal Studies (Why Karl Starts with K)”. For details, including the extraordinary list of speakers and how to register, see here.
Sunday, January 16, 2022
Shirley Lin (Pace) write to let us know about the 2022 Labor and Green New Deal Symposium:
The Pace Environmental Law Review is accepting submissions for its 2022 Symposium, “Labor and the Environment – Envisioning a Green New Deal.” On April 1, 2022, the symposium will gather regulators, law makers, policymakers, and academics to discuss the possibility of a comprehensive and effective Green New Deal (GND). Abstracts are due February 13, 2022 (extended deadline). Submission details are provided here.
Please send (1) an abstract of 300-500 words with anticipated wordcount for the final article; and (2) a CV to email@example.com. If accepted, articles may be 6,250-19,000 words, and essays may be 2,500-6,250 words. Final article deadline: May 4, 2022.
Wednesday, October 6, 2021
César F. Rosado Marzán writes to inform us about a great call for papers:
CALL FOR PROPOSED PAPERS:
Final papers due February 1, 2022
Employee Rights & Employment Policy Journal, Annual Symposium:
“What has Critical Race Theory Contributed to the Law of the Workplace?”
Some influential media pundits, politicians, state legislatures, and the administration of Donald J. Trump launched a frontal attack on Critical Race Theory (CRT). Reasons for the assault on CRT include that CRT theorists allegedly argue that the United States, white people, and other racial groups are inherently and irremediably racist and evil. Attacks include banning teaching CRT in public schools and other institutions of learning and forbidding implicit bias training.
But CRT has, for the most part, been a scholarly theoretical perspective focused mostly on exploring structures of race and racism. It has inspired a large body of work identifying how race and racism pervade in U.S. society despite the end of slavery and Jim Crow. As such, it has contributed to correcting our understandings of bias and to making U.S. law more sensitive to overt and hidden forms of discrimination. Far from arguing that groups are irremediably racist, it has also inspired research on how bias can change and how racism can be transcended, including by law and through worker training.
Unsurprisingly, labor and employment law has been affected by CRT. It has helped expand and historicize legal perceptions of race, color, and national origin; guide legislatures and courts on how appearance, grooming, and hair rules are colored by racist perceptions; understand how immigration status might be racialized; and explore intersectional realities, among other contributions.
In this light, the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal is calling for submissions for its annual 2022 symposium related to the contributions of CRT to the law of the workplace. Contributions can also focus on the legal rights that school and university administrators and educators have to resist political intrusions into academic freedom, such as those banning instruction of CRT.
We are seeking abstract submissions to be sent to us by November 12, 2021. Please submit to César F. Rosado Marzán (firstname.lastname@example.org) an abstract that is developed enough to allow the editors to evaluate the thesis and proposed execution of the project as a proposal. Please send the document in Microsoft Word format. Selected authors will be notified by Nov. 23, 2021, if not sooner, of the interest in potential publication. Completed papers will be expected by February 1, 2022. Any inquiries about the Call for Papers should be submitted to email@example.com.
This Symposium is sponsored by The Labor Law Group, a non-profit trust of labor and employment law scholars who collaborate on various educational projects. Labor Law Group member César F. Rosado Marzán (Iowa Law) will serve as symposium editor working with journal co-editors Michael Green (Texas A&M) and Noah Zatz (UCLA).
Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal is a faculty-edited, peer-reviewed journal co- published by The Labor Law Group and IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. Authors uniformly praise the Journal’s editing process. The Journal has a student staff who provide cite checking and Bluebooking, but their work is reviewed by the faculty editors, and authors do not deal directly with students.
Monday, September 13, 2021
A huge congratulations to Friend-of-Blog Leora Eisenstadt (Temple) on her wonderful new piece, #MeTooBots and the AI Workplace, which is forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business Law. This paper, which looks at the intersection of technology and the #MeToo movement, is definitely worth adding to your early semester reading list! Professor Eisenstadt wanted me to make sure to acknowledge two of my wonderful colleagues, Marcia McCormick and Matt Bodie, for their extraordinary efforts and help with this great new Article, which is available on SSRN. The abstract is below:
"Responding to the #MeToo Movement, companies across the United States and Europe are beginning to offer products that use AI to detect discrimination and harassment in digital communications. These companies promise to outsource a large component of the EEO compliance function to technology, preventing the financial costs of toxic behavior by using AI to monitor communications and report anything deemed inappropriate to employer representatives for investigation. Highlighting the problem of underreporting of sexual harassment and positing that many victims do not come forward out of a fear of retaliation, these “#MeTooBots” propose to remove the human element from reporting and rely on AI to detect and report unacceptable conduct before it contaminates the workplace.
This new technology raises numerous legal and ethical questions relating to both the effectiveness of the technology and the ways in which it alters the paradigm on which anti-discrimination and anti-harassment doctrine is based. First, the notion that AI is capable of identifying and parsing the nuances of human interactions is problematic as are the implications for underrepresented groups if their linguistic styles are not part of the AI’s training. More complicated, however, are the questions that arise from the technology’s attempt to eliminate the human reporter: (1) How does the use of AI to detect harassment impact employer liability and available defenses since the doctrine has long been based on worker reports? (2) How does this technology impact alleged victims’ vulnerability to retaliation when incidents may be detected without a victim’s report? (3) What is the impact on the power of victim voice and autonomy in this system? and (4) What are the overall consequences for organizational culture when this type of technology is employed?
This Article examines the use of AI in EEO compliance and considers whether the elimination of human reporting requires a reconsideration of the U.S.’s approach to discrimination and harassment. Appearing on the heels of revelations about the use of non-disclosure agreements and arbitration clauses to silence victims of sexual harassment, this Article posits that the use of AI to detect and report improper communications, an innovation that purports to help eradicate workplace harassment, may, in reality, be problematic for employers and employees alike, including functioning as a new form of victim abuse. Lastly, the Article considers the difficult work of creating open, healthy workplace cultures that encourage reporting, and the impact of outsourcing this work to Artificial Intelligence. Rather than rejecting what may be an inevitable move towards incorporating artificial intelligence solutions in the workplace, this Article suggests more productive uses of AI at work and adjustments to employment discrimination doctrine to be better prepared for an AI-dependent world."
-- Joe Seiner
Many thanks to Jonathan Harkavy (Patterson Harkavy) for sharing with us the 2021 edition of his annual review of the labor/employment decisions from the Supreme Court. As always, it's a great resource. Here's the abstract:
This article provides extended summaries and (separately) the author's take on every employment and labor law decision rendered by the Supreme Court during its most recent term. Also covered in this piece are abbreviated reviews of all grants of certiorari for the upcoming term and short summaries and analyses of all other employment-related opinions published by the Court this term, including those on the so-called shadow docket portion of the orders lists. The article concludes with additional commentary on the work of the Supreme Court as it affects the labor and employment law sector.
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Congratulations to Andrew Elmore (Miami) and Kati Griffith (Cornell) on the publication of their new piece, Franchisor Power as Employment Control, in the California Law Review! The piece can be downloaded here. This Article provides a wonderful analysis of this issue, and is an excellent read and contribution to the scholarship in the field. The abstract is below:
Labor and employment laws are systematically underenforced in low-wage, franchised workplaces. Union contracts, and the benefits and protections they provide, are nonexistent. The Fight for Fifteen movement has brought attention to the low wages, systemic violations of workers’ rights, and lack of collective representation in fast-food franchises. Given that franchisees can be judgment-proof and cannot set industry standards, the deterrence, remedial, and collective bargaining goals of labor and employment laws can depend on holding the franchisor (the brand) responsible under the joint employer doctrine. In a series of cases, however, a dominant approach has emerged that essentially foreclosed the possibility that franchisors and their subordinate companies (franchisees) are joint employers. Recent political developments mirror this foreclosure and pose a historic narrowing of the scope of joint employer liability. This Article challenges courts, administrative agencies, and legislators to take more seriously franchisors’ power over their franchisees and the working conditions of low-wage fast-food workers. To advance this argument, we rely on insights from an original empirical data set of (1) forty-four contracts between leading fast-food franchisors and franchisees in 2016 and (2) comprehensive documentation provided in joint employer legal proceedings against two major fast-food franchisors in the United States: McDonald’s and Domino’s Pizza. Our proposed “power as employment control” construct considers, within the confines of existing doctrines, the cumulative effects of lead franchisor firms’ reserved (unexercised) and exercised influence over the working conditions in their subordinate businesses. By giving power more consideration in analyses of joint employer liability, courts, administrative agencies, and policy-makers can bring more justice and consistency to this hotly contested area.
For those of you that are interested in some cutting edge scholarship in the employment law area, there are some great recent reviews on JOTWELL's Worklaw Section. In the last three months alone, the following wonderful reviews have been posted:
Kerri Stone's review of Kimberly Bailey's piece, Male Same-Sex "Horseplay": The Epicenter of Sexual Harassment, which is available here;
Alex Long's review of Michelle Travis's article, A Post-Pandemic Antidiscrimination Approach to Workplace Flexibility, which is available here; and
Jotwell is a great way to keep up on some of the most important and emerging scholarship in our field. You can take a look at all of the Worklaw Jotwell reviews here.
Tuesday, August 10, 2021
My summer research project has been compiling and analyzing COVID-related labor arbitration awards. The result is an article that will be published this fall in the Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution. The title is COVID-Related Labor Arbitration Awards in the United States and Canada: A Survey and Comparative Analysis; here's the abstract:
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21 has changed working conditions for millions of Americans and Canadians quickly and dramatically. Employers responded by requiring employees to quarantine, implementing workplace COVID policies, disciplining employees who violated those policies, changing work schedules, cancelling leaves or vacations, and furloughing or laying off employees. Unions have challenged many of these actions, raising a variety of novel issues that are now being resolved through labor arbitration. This article surveys those labor arbitration awards and then comparatively analyzes the awards from Canada and the United States.
Friday, June 25, 2021
Congratulations to Charlie Craver, Marion Crain, and Grant Hayden on the publication of the fourteenth (!!!) edition of Labor Relations Law: Cases and Materials (Caroline Academic Press). The book will be available for courses this fall. Here's a description:
The casebook is designed for an intensive examination of the union-management relationship throughout its major phases. Largely tracking the organization of the National Labor Relations Act, it covers the right of employees to join together for organizational purposes, the regulation of the union-organizing process including the use of economic weapons, the development of bargaining relationships, the negotiation and enforcement of collective agreements, and, more briefly, the law governing internal union affairs. The text responds generously to the most significant current developments in the field and provides a set of materials that will be truly manageable in the usual three- or four-hour courses. The fourteenth edition includes over sixty new hypothetical problems designed to test students’ knowledge of existing doctrines and push them to explore issues that don’t admit of ready answers (with detailed answers and explanations in the teacher’s manual). As with previous editions, the book will come with a comprehensive teacher’s manual and a biennial supplement to keep the book up-to-date.
Faculty should contact Erin Matthews at Carolina Academic Press for electronic review copies (firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-489-7486 ext. 123).
Saturday, May 29, 2021
From Marty Malin, one of the editors of the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal (along with Michael Green and Noah Zatz). Note that this is one of the few, peer-reviewed law journals. I may be biased, as I'm on the board of the journal and participate in the editing process, but I think they do a very good job of providing quick and useful reviews of submissions--especially with its accelerated review process.
Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal invites you to submit your work for publication. This summer we are again using a special review process for submissions received by Thursday, July 1. For these submissions, we will complete our peer-review selection process by Friday, August 13. Selected articles will be published in the final issue of 2021 (volume 25). For more than twenty-four years, EREPJ has been a faculty-edited, peer-reviewed journal based at Chicago-Kent College of Law. Since 2016, it has been a joint project of Chicago-Kent and The Labor Law Group. Our process is quite different from the sometimes frustrating one typical of student-run law reviews. Our peer-review process provides authors with editorial suggestions from their peers who are knowledgeable about the areas in which the authors are writing, as well as light editing and rapid publication post-acceptance.
The one downside to the peer review process is that it often takes more time than the typical student-run law journal review process. To address this, EREPJ is committing itself to an accelerated review process: you send us your work by July 1, and we will give you an answer on or before August 13. This rapid turnaround means that if we do not offer to publish your work, you will still be able to submit it to student-run journals in the late summer/early fall submission season. During our review period, out of respect for the time of our colleagues who will be conducting the double-blind review, we ask that you not submit your article for consideration by another journal.
Submissions to EREPJ are treated to a double-blind review by members of the editorial board (a group of distinguished professors in labor and employment law and related disciplines) and edited by your peers—people who can help you improve your work, not just publish it. You receive suggestions that you may use at your discretion—we do not rewrite your article (although we do correct errant citations, grammar mistakes, typos, and the like). We have a student staff that performs Bluebooking and cite-checking but our authors never have to deal with them—we do!
Finally, under our standard publication agreement, you retain the copyright and give us a nonexclusive license to publish and to sublicense others. We respect our authors' time, we respect their expertise, we respect their writing styles, and we respect their intellectual property rights. We encourage you to publish with us.
Please submit articles by e-mail to email@example.com or use the submission portal at http://go.iit.edu/erepj (n.b. to facilitate the double-blind review, make sure that all identifying information—your name; institutional affiliation; postal and email addresses; and phone number—is on a separate cover).
Monday, May 24, 2021
Codetermination—a system of shared corporate governance between shareholders and workers—has been mostly ignored within the U.S. corporate governance literature. When it has made an appearance, it has largely served as a foil for shareholder primacy and as an example of corporate deviance. However, over the last fifteen years—and especially in the last five—empirical research on codetermination has shown surprising results as to the system’s efficiency, resilience, and benefits to stakeholders.
This Article reviews the extant American legal scholarship on codetermination and provides a fresh look at the current state of codetermination theory and practice. Rather than experiencing the failures predicted by our law-and-economics framework of shareholder primacy, codetermination has fared better than alternative systems, particularly with respect to the ravages of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. At a time when corporate leaders, politicians, and academics are rethinking the shareholder primacy model, this Article presents an updated perspective on codetermination and invites U.S. scholars to reexamine their prior assumptions.
The new book is Reconstructing the Corporation: From Shareholder Primacy to Shared Governance (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2021). Here's a description:
Modern corporations contribute to a wide range of contemporary problems, including income inequality, global warming, and the influence of money in politics. Their relentless pursuit of profits, though, is the natural outcome of the doctrine of shareholder primacy. As the consensus around this doctrine crumbles, it has become increasingly clear that the prerogatives of corporate governance have been improperly limited to shareholders. It is time to examine shareholder primacy and its attendant governance features anew, and reorient the literature around the basic purpose of corporations. This book critically examines the current state of corporate governance law and provides decisive rebuttals to longstanding arguments for the exclusive shareholder franchise. Reconstructing the Corporation presents a new model of corporate governance - one that builds on the theory of the firm as well as a novel theory of democratic participation - to support the extension of the corporate franchise to employees.
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Edward Zelinsky explains, in Is Bitcoin Prudent? Is Art Diversified?: Offering Alternative Investments to 401(k) Participants, 54 Connecticut L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2021). Here's the abstract:
Whether any category of alternative investments ought to be considered for the menus offered to 401(k) participants is a fact-intensive question.Central to this inquiry are ERISA’s legal tests of prudence, diversification and loyalty. These tests require such fact-driven inquiries as the acceptability of a particular category of investments to investors in general and to professional defined benefit trustees in particular and the trustee’s motivation for embracing such investments. Another important concern when making this inquiry is the financial unsophistication of many (perhaps most) 401(k) participants.
Real estate investment trusts (REITs) pass ERISA’s fiduciary tests because REITs now have a considerable track record amassed over six decades and have achieved broad acceptance, both among general investors and in the world of defined benefit pensions.In contrast, art funds, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are today not prudent to offer to 401(k) participants in light of such investments’ novelty and the failure to date of defined benefit trustees to embrace such investments.
ESG funds are like art funds and Bitcoin, not objectively prudent under present circumstances and therefore not appropriate as a class for 401(k) investment menus. Hedge funds and private equity funds are closer to REITs in light of the widespread acceptance of these funds by defined benefit trustees.Consequently, as a class, such funds, if appropriately limited,qualify as prudent for 401(k) menus even if the trustee would not personally deploy his personal resources to such funds and even if some (perhaps many) such funds examined individually fail ERISA’s fiduciary standards.
These determinations may change over time with new factual circumstances, e.g., greater acceptance of a particular asset class by investors including professional defined benefit trustees as gatekeepers for the 401(k) universe; the emergence of robust markets which provide more experience with particular investment categories. But the approach is ultimately what counts as the norms of prudence, loyalty and diversification, applied to current facts, govern the construction of 401(k) investment menus.
Thursday, February 4, 2021
As the nation confronts multiple federal and state attacks on employee noncompetition agreements (NCAs), one issue has remained relatively obscure: may an employer that terminates a worker for reasons not related to performance nevertheless enforce an NCA? A scattering of cases mostly holds no, and the recent Restatement of Employment Law’s agreement with those decisions is likely to be very influential for the great majority of jurisdictions that have not yet addressed the question but may be forced to in light of massive COVID-related layoffs.
This Article supports the Restatement’s proposed rule, while exploring the fascinating doctrinal and policy issues implicated in the question. Ultimately, it sees the rule as rooted in concerns about fairness to employee that are typically given short shrift in current doctrine. This is true even for a Restatement that otherwise seems decided to opt for an economic approach that would validate NCAs that are “reasonably tailored” to defined legitimate employer interests.
Adoption of a rule denying enforcement in such situations also poses some interesting second-order questions, such as how to determine when a termination is performance-related and probable employer responses to a new dispensation. All are explored in the pages that follow.
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Nicole Porter (Toledo) has just posted on SSRN her article #MeToo and the Process That's Due: Sexual Misconduct Where We Live, Work, and Learn. Here's the abstract:
The #MeToo movement has been instrumental in bringing attention to the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and sexual assault (collectively, sexual misconduct ) in all walks of life and in all environments, including at work, school, home, and out in public. But the movement has also brought with it a great deal of confusion about how we define sexual misconduct and whether and when legal liability attaches. Part of that confusion can be blamed on the fact that at least three discrete areas of law can possibly apply to sexual misconduct—criminal law, Title VII (when the sexual misconduct takes place in the workplace), and Title IX (when the sexual misconduct takes place in schools and universities). Adding to that confusion is that there are several inconsistencies between how these three areas of the law address issues surrounding sexual misconduct. The most prominent of these inconsistencies is the varied due process protections that apply, depending on where the sexual misconduct takes place. This article will discuss these inconsistencies, and will address the issue of whether these differences can be justified. In the end, this article concludes that the increased due process protection for Title IX cases (compared to Title VII cases) cannot be justified. Thus, it proposes a compromise response to answer the question—how much process is due?
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
The International Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW) Network has just published the inaugural issue of a new law journal – the Global Labour Rights Reporter. The journal is a forum primarily for labour and employment law practitioners globally, including ILAW Network members, to grapple with the legal and practical issues that directly affect workers and their organizations today. It takes a comparative approach, reflecting the worldwide composition of ILAW’s membership. Each issue of the journal will be organized thematically and will highlight notable cases and judicial opinions, trends in the regulation of labour, and analytical pieces which help to envision how practitioners can expand the protection of law, enhance accountability and obtain full and effective remedies. The journal will be published bi-annually, summer and winter, with the possibility of additional articles or contributions being posted on the journal’s website between issues.
- WORKER-ENFORCEABLE SUPPLIER CODES OF CONDUCT AS A TOOL FOR ACCESS TO JUSTICE
IN GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS, by BETTINA BRAUN, AVERY KELLY & CHARITY RYERSON
- ACCESS TO JUSTICE IN LABOUR RELATIONS IN GEORGIA, by RAISA LIPARTELIANI & TAMAR GABISONIA
- ACCESS TO LABOUR JUSTICE AND PROCEDURAL BARRIERS IN COMMENCEMENT OF PROCEEDINGS: A PARADIGM SHIFT IN ZIMBABWEAN COURT PRACTICE OR A JUDICIAL MIRAGE?, by MUNYARADZI GWISAI
- EFFECTIVE JUDICIAL PROTECTION AND THE RIGHTS OF WORKING PEOPLE UNDER COVID-19: A VIEW FROM COLLECTIVE LAW, by MIGUEL ANGEL GARRIDO PALACIOS
- THE RIGHT TO FAIR AND SATISFACTORY WORKING CONDITIONS: RISK PREVENTION AND ACCESS TO JUSTICE, by MARÍA PAULA LOZANO & MATÍAS CREMONTE
- AUSTRALIA’S UNIQUE AWARD SYSTEM HAS BEEN TESTED BY THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: IT HAS BEEN SHOWN TO BE READILY ADAPTABLE TO PROTECT EMPLOYER INTERESTS BUT LESS EFFECTIVE AT PROACTIVELY PROTECTING EMPLOYEES, by TREVOR CLARKE
- COVID-19 & NEOLIBERALISM: IMPACTS ON LABOUR JUSTICE IN BRAZIL, by PEDRO DANIEL BLANCO ALVES & MAXIMILIANO NAGL GARCEZ
- THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THE WHISTLE-BLOWER PROTECTION IN POLAND, by ŁUCJA KOBROŃ-GĄSIOROWSKA
- LABOUR INSPECTION: MORE THAN AN EXERCISE IN ETHICS, by SAMANTHA RAMSAY & BERYL TER HAAR
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Tammy Katsabian (postdoc, Harvard Labor & Worklife Program) has just posted on SSRN her article The Rule of Technology – How Technology Is Used to Disturb Basic Labor Law Protections (forthcoming 25 Lewis & Clark L. Rev. ___ (2021). [Americans should note: she uses "labor" broadly to include what we usually refer to as "employment" law.] Here's the abstract of this timely article:
Much has been written on technology and the law. Leading scholars are occupied with the power dynamics between capital, technology, and the law, along with their implications for society and human rights. Alongside that, various labor law scholars focus on the implications of smart technology on employees’ rights throughout the recruitment and employment periods and on workers’ status and rights in the growing phenomenon of platform-based work. This article aims to contribute to the current scholarship by zooming it out and observing from a bird’s-eye view how certain actors use technology to manipulate and challenge basic legal categories in labor today. This is done by referring to legal, sociological, and internet scholarship on the matter.
The main argument elaborated throughout this article is that digital technology is used to blur and distort many of the basic labor law protections. Because of this, legal categories and rights in the labor field seem to be outdated and need to be adjusted to this new reality.
By providing four detailed examples, the article unpacks how employers, giant high-tech companies, and society use various forms of technology to constantly disturb legal categories in the labor field regarding time, sphere, and relations. In this way, the article demonstrates how social media sites, information communication technologies, and artificial intelligence are used to blur the traditional concepts of privacy, working time and place, the employment contract, and community. This increased blurriness and fragility in labor have created many new difficulties that require new ways of thinking about regulation. Therefore, the article argues that both law and technology have to be modified to cope with the new challenges. Following this, the article proposes three possible ways in which to start considering the regulation of labor in the digital reality: (1) embrace flexibility as part of the legal order and use it as an interpretive tool and not just as an obstacle, (2) broaden the current legal protection and add a procedural layer to the legal rights at stake, and (3) use technology as part of the solution to the dilemmas that technology itself has emphasized. By doing so, this article seeks to enable more accurate thinking on law and regulation in the digital reality, particularly in the labor field, as well as in other fields and contexts.
Monday, January 11, 2021
The Cornell ILR School’s New Conversations Project and Sandra Polaski, Senior Research Scholar at Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center, will hold a live discussion on Tuesday, 19 January 2021 from 9 – 10:15 EST on the topic of Sandra's recent paper, How Trade Policy Failed U.S. Workers--and How to Fix It. Register here.
A group of scholars and practitioners will debate the paper’s proposed changes and their possible impacts for workers. Participants include:
- Sandra Polaski, Senior Research Scholar in the Global Economic Governance Initiative at Boston University, and member of the Independent Mexico Labor Expert Board.
- Desiree LeClercq, Proskauer Employment and Labor Law Assistant Professor at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
- Carlos Salas, Visiting Professor of Economics at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UNAM), Azcapotzalco, Mexico City.
- Olabisi Akinkugbe, Assistant Professor at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Canada.
- Dave Welsh, Country Director of the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center in Thailand.
- Jason Judd (Moderator), Executive Director of Cornell University's New Conversations Project in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations.