Category Archives: Employment

New Article: “Rendered Invisible: African American Low-Wage Workers and the Workplace Exploitation Paradigm”

New Article: Llezlie Green Coleman, Rendered Invisible: African American Low-Wage Workers and the Workplace Exploitation Paradigm, 60 Howard L.J. 61 (2016). Abstract below:

The narrative of low-wage worker exploitation has increasingly narrowed in focus to reflect the experiences of undocumented immigrant workers whose immigration status makes them particularly vulnerable to wage theft and other denials of their substantive workplace rights. Indeed, much of the scholarship in this area rests solidly at the intersection of immigrant justice and employment law. This article disrupts this paradigm by arguing that this limited narrative has rendered African American low-wage workers invisible. It also draws from the voices of low-wage worker advocates who have borrowed from current activism to announce that #BlackWorkersMatter. Given the role of paradigms in defining which issues merit our attention, analysis, and assessment, this article argues for a shift in the scholarly conversation to consider not only the historical reasons for the distancing of African Americans from worker advocacy, but also the current dynamics that have facilitated this phenomenon. This article draws from critical race theorists’ black/white binary analysis to consider whether there exists an immigrant/non-immigrant binary paradigm in the analyses of low-wage worker exploitation. Finally, it considers the particular vulnerabilities and disadvantages this paradigm creates for African American workers.

New Pathways Issue: “State of the Union 2017”

SOTU_cover_smallNew Pathways : “State of the Union 2017” (Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality 2017). Table of contents below:

Executive Summary
Are our country’s policies for reducing racial and ethnic inequalities getting the job done? The simple answer: No.
Employment
Even after the recovery, 1 in 9 African Americans and 1 in 6 Hispanics fear a job loss within one year. Why?
Poverty
We remain two Americas: a high-poverty America for blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans, and a (relatively) low-poverty America for whites and Asians.
Safety Net
The safety net, which is supposed to serve an equalizing function, sometimes works to exacerbate racial and ethnic inequalities within the low-income population.
Housing
Whereas 1 in 6 black and Hispanic households dedicate at least half of their income to housing costs, only 1 in 12 white households do. How did that happen?
Education
Between 1990 and 2015, average academic performance improved for students of all racial and ethnic groups, but grew fastest among black and Hispanic students. The result: White-black and white-Hispanic achievement gaps declined by 15 to 25 percent.
Incarceration
Did you think that all that talk about criminal justice reform has brought about a sea change in racial inequalities in incarceration? Think again.
Health
Large and persistent racial gaps in health are not the product of our genes but the consequences of our policies and history.
Earnings
Between 1970 and 2010, the earnings gap between whites and other groups has narrowed, but most of that decline was secured in the immediate aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement.
Wealth
African-Americans have less than 8 cents and Hispanics less than 10 cents of wealth for every dollar amassed by whites.
Intergenerational Mobility
The persistence of poverty has long been stronger for blacks than whites. However, beginning with generations that came of age in the mid-1960s, the white-black gap in the chance of escaping poverty has closed significantly.

New Article: “Immigrant Neighbors, Workers, and Caregivers in Our Midst: What We Owe Each Other”

New Article: Michael J. Sullivan, Immigrant Neighbors, Workers, and Caregivers in Our Midst: What We Owe Each Other, 95 Tex. L. Rev. 81 (2016).

New Article: “Ban the Address: Combating Employment Discrimination Against the Homeless”

New Article: Sarah Golabek-Goldman, Ban the Address: Combating Employment Discrimination Against the Homeless, 126 Yale L.J. 1788 (2017).  Abstract below:

This Note presents a study of obstacles to employment faced by homeless job applicants and offers potential solutions. Homeless job applicants confront discrimination when they provide the address of a shelter or do not have an address to provide on applications. Advocates should seek to protect homeless job applicants by encouraging businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies to provide homeless applicants with addresses or P.O. boxes. Most significantly, the proposed “Ban the Address” campaign would discourage employers from inquiring about an applicant’s address or residency history until after granting a provisional offer of employment. Advocacy efforts such as these can serve as a foundation for successful legal claims under new homeless person’s bills of rights, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. This Note explains why requesting residency information might be deemed illegal under both state and federal causes of action. A combination of both legal and nonlegal tactics has the best chance of permitting homeless job applicants to obtain employment and to regain self-sufficiency.

Article: Privacy, Poverty and Big Data: A Matrix of Vulnerabilities for Poor Americans

Article: Mary Madden, et al., Privacy, Poverty and Big Data: A Matrix of Vulnerabilities for Poor Americans, Washington L. Rev. (forthcoming 2017).

This Article examines the matrix of vulnerabilities that low-income people face as a result of the collection and aggregation of big data and the application of predictive analytics. On the one hand, big data systems could reverse growing economic inequality by expanding access to opportunities for low-income people. On the other hand, big data could widen economic gaps by making it possible to prey on low-income people or to exclude them from opportunities due to biases that get entrenched in algorithmic decision-making tools. New kinds of “networked privacy” harms, in which users are simultaneously held liable for their own behavior and the actions of those in their networks, may have particularly negative impacts on the poor. This Article reports on original empirical findings from a large, nationally-representative telephone survey with an oversample of low-income American adults and highlights how these patterns make particular groups of low-status internet users uniquely vulnerable to various forms of surveillance and networked privacy-related problems. In particular, a greater reliance on mobile connectivity, combined with lower usage of privacy-enhancing strategies may contribute to various privacy and security-related harms. The article then discusses three scenarios in which big data – including data gathered from social media inputs – is being aggregated to make predictions about individual behavior: employment screening, access to higher education, and predictive policing. Analysis of the legal frameworks surrounding these case studies reveals a lack of legal protections to counter digital discrimination against low-income people. In light of these legal gaps, the Article assesses leading proposals for enhancing digital privacy through the lens of class vulnerability, including comprehensive consumer privacy legislation, digital literacy, notice and choice regimes, and due process approaches. As policymakers consider reforms, the article urges greater attention to impacts on low-income persons and communities.

Article: “Hun, I Want You for Dessert”: Why Eliminating the Sub-Minimum Wage for Restaurant Servers Will Empower Women

Suzanne Specker, “Hun, I Want You for Dessert”: Why Eliminating the Sub-Minimum Wage for Restaurant Servers Will Empower Women, 19 U. Pa. J.L. & Soc. Change 335 (2017).

 

Article: Resurrecting Labor

Article: Richard A. Bales, Resurrecting Labor77 Maryland L. Rev. (forthcoming).

Participation in American labor unions have changed radically, albeit incrementally, over the last fifty years. Private‐sector union density has declined five‐fold, whereas public‐sector density has increased almost as significantly. Today, unions rarely strike and in much of the country they are politically impotent. As traditional manufacturing declines and is replaced by on‐demand work, unions risk becoming a historical footnote.

This article ties the decline in union density and power to macroeconomic trends that are highly troubling in an advanced democracy, such as rising income inequality and the failure of wage growth to keep pace with GDP growth. It next reviews the traditional prescriptions that labor scholars have advocated to reverse labor’s decline. Finally, it proposes three new radical fixes: authorizing criminal prosecution for willful violations of labor law, expanding labor protections to on‐demand workers, and reversing the legal presumption that workers are not represented by a union unless they affirmatively opt in.

News Article: How to ensure everyone a guaranteed basic income

News Article: Steven Pearlstein, How to ensure everyone a guaranteed basic income, Washington Post (Mar. 24, 2017).

Article: What Diversity Contributes to Equal Opportunity

Article: Stephen M. Rich, What Diversity Contributes to Equal Opportunity, 89 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1111 (2016).

The ideal of diversity so pervades American public life that we now speak of diversity where we once spoke of equality. Yet we seldom pause to consider the costs that have accompanied this shift. In Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court held that a public university’s use of racial preferences in student admissions will not violate equal protection if the challenged admissions policy is narrowly tailored to achieve the university’s compelling interest in student body diversity. Rather, however, than quieting public controversies about affirmative action, the decision has been a frequent target of legal and political attack. Grutter and the Court’s subsequent decisions in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin have established the dominant legal conception of diversity, but they have also left many questions unanswered concerning the applicability of Grutter’s diversity rationale outside of the educational context. This Article rejects Grutter’s rationale, but not the relevance of diversity to the goal of equal opportunity. It demonstrates that Grutter’s rationale underserves equal opportunity by deferring to institutional constructions of diversity’s benefits, naively equating the achievement of numerical diversity with the accomplishment of those benefits, and failing to distinguish between exploitative and egalitarian uses of diversity. This Article uses the popular conception of diversity found in business settings and managerial literature as a foil for the legal conception. On the one hand, by conceiving of diversity as a business resource, managerial discourse advocates for exploitative uses of diversity, thereby widening the gap between diversity and equal opportunity. On the other hand, because the value of diversity as a business resource turns in part on the professional growth and achievement of individual workers, managerial discourse sometimes invokes the concept of diversity in order to promote new institutional practices that extend professional opportunities to all persons, regardless of social status. Managerial discourse thus reveals important dangers and possibilities inherent within the concept of diversity that have yet to be explored in legal discourse. This Article marshals those lessons to propose a reconstruction of Grutter’s diversity rationale to fulfill its potential as an instrument of equal opportunity, even outside of the educational context and even when an institution does not rely on affirmative action.

Blog Post: What happens to poor people if there is no affordable legal aid?

Blog Post: Kendra Allen, What happens to poor people if there is no affordable legal aid?, The Daily Wrag (Mar. 21, 2017).