Inequality Inquiry >> Category

A Solution to Hoffman’s Choice for Unauthorized Workers: Creating New Incentives to Report Unlawful Workplace Discrimination

October 4, 2016

Journal Logo

by Andrew J. Glasnovich
In 2012, the United States was home to 11.7 million people who did not have legal authorization to reside in the country. Of those, approximately 8 million people were active in the work force. Unauthorized workers will likely contribute $2.6 trillion over the next decade to the U.S. economy. Those unauthorized persons are some of the most vulnerable members of society.  Because of their status, some unauthorized workers fear that their choice to report employer misconduct will lead to their deportation or imprisonment. State and federal laws prohibit employers from class-based discrimination against their workers—whether these workers are authorized or unauthorized. Despite those laws, some employer misconduct is notably egregious and includes wage theft, unsafe labor conditions, race and sex discrimination, and sexual assault. However, some unauthorized workers are brave enough to risk deportation and challenge their employers’ unlawful practices.

Continue Reading

Putting Olmstead to Work: Toward a Less Segregated Workplace

May 2, 2019

Journal Logo

by Alexander Lane
At the Harold V. Birch Vocational Academy, “a Providence high school where students with intellectual disabilities participated in an in-school sheltered workshop, separated from their non-disabled peers,” Jerry D’Agostino worked to sort, assemble, and package jewelry and buttons. At the Academy, Jerry earned well below minimum wage until graduating in 2010. Thereafter, Jerry continued to perform this “benchwork” at another sheltered workshop—Goodwill Industries. Jerry felt this work was boring and lamented the amount of downtime involved. Prior to the June 2013 Interim Settlement Agreement between the Department of Justice and the State of Rhode Island and City of Providence, Jerry believed spending his days in a sheltered workshop performing rote benchwork for less than minimum wage would be a life sentence.

Continue Reading

Opportunity Zones: Gambling with Our General Welfare

January 5, 2021

Economic inequality is at a breaking point. “Opportunity Zones” operate currently to expand specific welfare rather than general welfare. Reforms may be imminent, but OZs reveal how private-public partnerships often prioritize the interests of only a few.

Continue Reading

Minimum Wage and the Tipping Culture Divide

January 18, 2021

Annali Cler* On November 3rd, voters flocked to the polls, and election results gripped the nation for the following week. Although the presidential race captured headlines, another important vote occurred that day. In Florida, voters approved an amendment to the state’s minimum wage. Florida’s minimum wage for non-tipped employees will increase to $15 by 2026,…

Continue Reading

Injured on the Job: Minnesota Case Presents Opportunity to Address Employment Rights of Medical Cannabis Users

March 3, 2022

Grace Moore* The United States Supreme Court seems poised to consider the case of an employee injured in Mendota Heights, Minnesota that could settle a dilemma in employment law that has divided state courts and denied injured workers their employment rights. In Musta v. Mendota Heights Dental Center (“Musta”), the Minnesota Supreme Court determined that…

Continue Reading

Ignoring Inequalities and Refusing to Consider Consequences: The Supreme Court’s Blocking of OSHA’s Emergency COVID Standard

March 31, 2022

By Brandon Vaca[1] On January 13, the six conservative Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court stayed (blocked) and effectively struck down the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) emergency vaccine-or-test standard (Standard) for employers.[2] The Court’s reasoning in its unsigned opinion ranges from vexing to troubling. As the three dissenting Justices pointed out, the Court…

Continue Reading

Out of the Cell and Into the Fire: Inherently Dangerous Prison Work Assignments, the Eighth Amendment’s Guarantee of Safe Conditions of Confinement, and California’s AB-2147

April 13, 2022

by River Lord[1]   Using the labor of inmates in the United States has a long and controversial tradition. Many observers have identified how higher rates of policing and incarceration among minority communities, coupled with the widespread use of inmate labor in exchange for sub-minimum wages, create a system of labor exploitation and racial oppression…

Continue Reading