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Realizing Worker and Social Justice Reading Group

Kyle Bigley, Angie Liao, & Ann Sarnak
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Law governs the workplace in myriad ways. Though many regulations concerning work are concentrated in the fields of employment and labor law (“ELL”), issues of workplace justice intersect with almost every legal field and subfield conceivable, from criminal law to environmental law to education law to immigration law to First Amendment law and beyond. 

This reading group will begin with an overview of how “labor” and “employment” law are precisely defined in the United States: what are unions, which workers are allowed to organize unions, what are unions allowed to do, and what does it have to do with law? What protections do workers in the U.S. have (or not have) from discrimination, harassment, and termination—and how are those protections impacted by things like immigration status or industrial sector? 

Each subsequent session will focus on the relationship between ELL and a separate area of law with its own vast implications for working life. An intersectional, interdisciplinary lens on ELL will illuminate the key, complex questions that central figures of the U.S. movement for worker justice—whether they be conventional trade unions or emergent worker collectives—must answer with respect to the future of their movement, and the role that lawyers might play in that future. We will invite guests—including labor activists, legal scholars, and policy experts—to join us for several sessions and enliven our discussions with their experiences, perspectives, and expertise.