Employers Gone Rogue: Explaining Industry Variation in Violations of Workplace Laws

Stub for 1975,
Michael Spiller, Cornell University
Nik Theodore, University of Illinois, Chicago
Publication Date:
Jan 2012
Project Programs:
Future of Work

Drawing on an innovative, representative survey of workers in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City, the authors analyze minimum wage, overtime, and other workplace violations in the low-wage labor market. They document significant inter-industry variation in both the mix and prevalence of violations, and show that while differences in workforce composition are important in explaining that variation, it is differences in job and employer characteristics that play the stronger role. The authors suggest that industry noncompliance rates are shaped by both product market and institutional characteristics, which together interact with labor supply and the current weak penalty and enforcement regime in the U.S. The paper closes with a research agenda for this still young field, framing noncompliance as an emerging strategy in the reorganization of work and production at the bottom of the U.S. labor market.


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