Understanding Local Labor Law Enforcement: A Comparative Organizational Study of City Labor Standards Enforcement Agencies

Awarded Scholars:
Hana Shepherd,Rutgers University
Janice Fine,Rutgers University
Project Date:
Apr 2018
Award Amount:
$148,395

In recent years a number of cities in the U.S. have adopted new labor laws and regulations including higher minimum wages, paid sick leave, and fair scheduling ordinances. However, implementation of these ordinances may be hindered by a number of factors, including high rates of violations in certain sectors, workers reluctant to come forward for fear of employer retaliation, low fines and penalties for violations, and insufficient staffing at the agencies tasked with overseeing implementation. Amidst these challenges, to what extent can local enforcement foster outcomes more favorable to workers, especially in localities that have set up their own enforcement agencies? Sociologist Hana Shepherd and industrial and labor relations expert Janice Fine will analyze recent labor laws in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle to explore how factors such as administrative norms, agency staff’s ideas about compliance, and various legal tools all influence enforcement practices. They will study the sites where these new ordinances are administered to evaluate how the law is implemented by the agents tasked with overseeing them.

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