Republican state governments have blocked cities from raising wages and helping workers. Now, an activist movement is rallying to win back local power.
From interactive courses spanning several weeks to quick introductory tasters, there is a huge amount of free learning materials available online. Covering a range of topics and jurisdictions, there’s something for everyone (so long as you’re into law)!
MOOCs, Tasters and Courseware
Lecture Collections and Podcasts
Open Access Books and Journals
Labor Law and Employment Discrimination
Missouri State University on YouTube
‘Legal, regulatory, and ethical issues related to employer-employee relationship, including employment-at-will doctrine, discrimination and union contracts.’
‘This course studies the interaction between law, courts, and social movements in shaping domestic and global public policy. Examines how groups mobilize to use law to affect change and why they succeed and fail. The class uses case studies to explore the interplay between law, social movements, and public policy in current areas such as gender, race, labor, trade, environment, and human rights. Finally, it introduces the theories of public policy, social movements, law and society, and transnational studies.’
Technology, Law, and the Working Environment
MIT Open Courseware
‘This course addresses the relationship between technology-related problems and the law applicable to work environment. The National Labor Relations Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, state worker’s compensation, and suits by workers in the courts are discussed in the course. Problems related to occupational health and safety, collective bargaining as a mechanism for altering technology in the workplace, job alienation, productivity, and the organization of work are also addressed. Prior courses or experience in environmental, public health, or law-related areas will be useful.’
Cornell University on iTunesU
‘Andrew D. White, Cornell’s first president, established a law school to produce “not swarms of hastily prepared pettifoggers, but a fair number of well-trained, large-minded, morally-based lawyers in the best sense.” Cornell Law graduates are found in major law firms and corporate law departments; and as public defenders or winning discrimination cases. Undergraduates can take courses in labor, business, and international law, and study the impact of a legal system on societies and individuals.’
Gender and the Law in U.S. History
MIT Open Courseware
‘This subject explores the legal history of the United States as a gendered system. It examines how women have shaped the meanings of American citizenship through pursuit of political rights such as suffrage, jury duty, and military service, how those political struggles have varied for across race, religion, and class, as well as how the legal system has shaped gender relations for both women and men through regulation of such issues as marriage, divorce, work, reproduction, and the family. The course readings will draw from primary and secondary materials in American history, as well as some court cases. However, the focus of the class is on the broader relationship between law and society, and no technical legal knowledge is required or assumed.’
‘The free online course Introduction to Alternative Dispute Resolution describes the benefits of using ADR as a conflict resolution method, how to prepare for an ADR process, and how confidentiality is maintained during the ADR process. The course also outlines both the common and uncommon methods of ADR and the situations in which each method can be used.’
Introduction to Copyright Law in America
MIT on Alison
‘With the wide-spread use of the Internet copyright has become a very important issue for publishers of books, music, software, films, television programmes and many other industries. This free online course is an introduction to copyright law as practised in the United States, however, the principles and concepts will be of interest to legal professionals in other jurisdictions. The course reviews the structure of copyright under federal law, the basics of legal research and legal citations. It examines copyright and its applications in the music and broadcasting industries, and looks at legal cases involving examples such as Napster, Grokster and peer-to-peer file sharing services. It also reviews software licensing, and the General Public License and free software. This course will be of great interest to legal and business professionals who would like to learn more about copyright law and how it is practised in the United States, and to students who are pursuing a career in the legal professions and would like to learn more about this very important legal topic.’
Source: Eric J. Brunner, Andrew Ju, ILR Review, Vol. 72 no. 2, March 2019
From the abstract:
Using the Public Use Microdata Sample from the 2005 to 2015 American Community Survey, the authors provide new evidence on how state collective bargaining laws affect public-sector wages. To isolate the causal effect of bargaining laws on public-sector pay, they examine wage differentials between otherwise similar public- and private-sector employees located in the same local labor market. They estimate difference-in-differences (DD) models that exploit two sources of plausibly exogenous variation: 1) policy discontinuities along state borders and 2) variation within states in collective bargaining laws in states where the majority of public workers are without collective bargaining rights. Findings show that mandatory collective bargaining laws increase public-sector wages by approximately 5 to 8 percentage points. Results therefore suggest that mandatory collective bargaining laws provide a formal mechanism through which public-sector workers are able to bargain for increased compensation.
From the abstract:
On the 80th anniversary of the federal wage and hour statute, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), critics warn that it cannot keep pace with shifting business trends. More and more individuals engage in “contract work,” some of which takes place in the much publicized “gig economy.” These work arrangements raise questions about whether these workers are “employees,” covered by U.S. labor and employment law, or “independent contractors.” Subcontracting arrangements, or what some call domestic outsourcing, are also expanding. Indeed, more and more workers in the U.S. economy engage with multiple businesses, raising questions of which of these businesses are “employers” responsible for the payment of wages. These are pressing questions for the judiciary, policymakers, scholars of work, and the U.S. Department of Labor because many of these individuals work in low-wage sectors and do not make minimum wages or overtime premiums for the hours they work. This Article uses a systematic study of thousands of pages of legislative history documents to bring a historical lens to the independent contractor and joint employer debates that are raging on Capitol Hill and in the courts. It concludes that Congress broadly and flexibly worded this New Deal legislation with foresight about the need to cover evolving business relationships regardless of business formalities. It calls for a narrow reading of the independent contractor category and a broad interpretation of employment relationships that should help the FLSA to serve its statutory purpose of ensuring “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” in the twenty-first century.
A Wisconsin law stripped their union of its rights. So the teachers got to work.
We must once again imagine a legal regime that both encourages workers’ collective activity and gives their organizations real power in the governing process.
Source: Maureen Minehan, Employment Alert, Volume 36 Issue 6, March 18, 2019
Could you be forced to provide employees with 10 days of paid leave every year? That’s exactly what New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for. In January, he announced his intention to introduce legislation requiring private employers with five or more employees to provide at least 10 paid personal days each year to full- and part-time workers. If the measure passes, more than 500,000 employees would gain the ability to take paid vacation, de Blasio says.
Source: Amy J. Traub and Amanda Van Hoose Garofalo, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 44, No. 4, Spring 2019
It is clear that the #MeToo movement has spurred many actions from all sides, but we likely will not know its full impact for years to come. The authors of this article review the inception of the #MeToo movement and how things have changed since the movement began.
It has been more than a year since the allegations against Harvey Weinstein broke in The New York Times, which unleashed one of the largest social media-driven movements seen to date: #MeToo. #MeToo did not confine itself to social media; instead, the individuals driving this movement screamed from their social media platforms until real change occurred – not just small changes made to appease some current fad, but truly dramatic changes that have shifted the way employers and the law handle sexual harassment claims….
California Employers Face Raft of New #MeToo Laws
Source: Benjamin M. Ebbink, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 44, No. 4, Spring 2019
The author of this article provides a complete summary of all of the relevant labor and employment legislation recently signed—and vetoed—in California….
What Employers Need to Know About Delaware’s New Anti-Sexual Harassment Law
Source: Zachary R. Davis and Jennifer A. Ermilio, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 44, No. 4, Spring 2019
A new law expands the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act to add a section on sexual harassment. In addition, a recent federal court case makes compliance even more important for Delaware employers (as well as those in New Jersey and Pennsylvania). This article provides a brief summary of Delaware’s new anti-harassment law and the case, along with compliance tips for employers…..
Many Changes Lie Ahead for Companies in the #MeToo Era
Source: Charrise L. Alexander, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 44, No. 4, Spring 2019
For a very long time, companies dealt with sexual assault and harassment allegations quietly and in backrooms. However, thanks to the turning tide, more companies are reexamining their internal policies, encouraging change in corporate culture, and addressing sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination claims more directly. The author of this article discusses the changes and recommends that a good insurance program be a part of those changes.
From the abstract:
This Article argues that the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, Social Security Act of 1935, and Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 should be understood as a “workers’ constitution.” The Article tells the history of how a connected wave of social movements responded to the insecurity that wage earners faced after the Industrial Revolution and Great Depression by working with government officials to bring about federal collective bargaining rights, wage and hour legislation, and social security legislation. It argues that the statutes are tied together as a set of “small c” constitutional commitments in both their histories and theory. Each statute sought to redefine economic freedom for workers around security and sought to position worker security as essential to the constitutional accommodation of corporate capitalism. The Article also explores the interpretive implications of conceiving of a “workers’ constitution” in the current context.
Unemployment “reforms” in Iowa and other states controlled by the GOP fit neatly with a larger agenda: not to protect workers from low wages, unsafe working conditions, and unbridled employer power, but to compel them to accept whatever they can get.