A program of the workplace justice lab@RU

Over the last decade, cities, counties, and states across the US have enacted innovative economic policies, but the challenge is enforcement. State and local agencies that are charged with labor law enforcement have an enormously important job to do. The workplace justice lab@RU is working to address this challenge by facilitating a dynamic learning community among state and local departments of labor. Through webinars and community conversations, agencies are learning to share innovative approaches to intake, complaint and triage, investigations, improving collection rates, settlement agreement content and negotiation, joint employer liability and multi-jurisdictional cooperation, protecting vulnerable workers from retaliation, strategic enforcement and co-enforcement. Our webinars and communities of practice are developed in partnership with the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

Latest Webinar

Publicizing Violators to Increase Compliance:  A Conversation about Effective Naming and Shaming Techniques to Maximize the Resources of Labor Standards Enforcement Agencies (May 2022)

Labor Standards Enforcement Series

To capture and expand on the information shared in the webinars, the workplace justice lab@RU and CLASP created a Labor Standards Enforcement Series. Briefs in the series correspond to the webinars and provide examples of strategies used by various agencies to maximize their effectiveness, including how to successfully leverage partnerships between agencies, community-based organizations, and the private bar, as well as insights for advocates seeking to improve the legislative tools available to enforce laws.

Labor Standards Enforcement Toolkit

Latest News

SECLAP 2021: The workplace justice lab@RU has launched a new yearlong Strategic Enforcement Community of Learning and Practice (SECLAP) with state and local agencies from across the country. SECLAP will have its first session on January 27th.

Florida Policymakers Need to Reassess How the Minimum Wage is Enforced
In November 2020, Floridians made the historic decision to move an estimated 2.5 million Floridians closer to a living wage with the passage of Amendment 2, which increased the state's minimum wage from $8.65 to $10 per hour, then rising by $1 per hour each year until it reaches $15 in 2026. In anticipation of this increase, which takes effect in September 2021, we partnered with the Florida Policy Institute (FPI) to assess the extent to which the current state minimum wage is enforced. FPI and the workplace justice lab@RU analyzed over 15 years of U.S. Census data and recent records obtained from the Florida Attorney General’s Office to do so. The findings indicate the Florida minimum wage has been largely unenforced for at least a decade. Victims of wage theft are, on average, robbed of 18 percent of their wages, and are disproportionately likely to be Black, Latina, and immigrant women. The impacts of minimum wage violations extend beyond those workers directly affected. If violation rates persist, Florida could expect to lose an average of $25.3 million in sales tax revenue each year over the next six years. 

Maintaining effective U.S. labor standards enforcement through the coronavirus recession
In partnership with the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, workplace justice lab@RU researchers have released a study that examines the relationship between unemployment levels and minimum wage violation rates during the Great Recession of 2007—2009 to better understand what policies are needed to protect workers’ rights during the coronavirus recession. Minimum wage violations increased dramatically during the Great Recession, disproportionately impacting Latinx, Black, and female workers. Given these findings, we anticipate the coronavirus recession will result in increased violations, yet as high unemployment adds to workers’ desperation to maintain any job, the likelihood that low-wage workers will file complaints with an enforcement agency will decrease. Because the predominant U.S. labor market enforcement model relies on individual complaints to trigger an investigation, workers most impacted by the coronavirus recession are at risk of being overlooked by regulators unless agencies embrace a different enforcement framework. This report describes the main elements of a more proactive strategic enforcement and co-enforcement approach, and details how federal labor enforcement standards can be reformed to meet the challenges of a changing U.S. labor market hit hard by the coronavirus recession. Access the report here

A shorter essay discussing the study's findings and their implications was included as part of Boosting Wages for U.S. Workers in the New Economy, a compilation of 10 essays from leading economic thinkers who explore alternative policies for boosting wages and living standards, rooted in different structures that contribute to stagnant and unequal wages. 

A Roadmap for Strategic Enforcement: Complaints and Compliance with San Francisco’s Minimum Wage
A new workplace justice lab@RU study
examines San Francisco’s minimum wage enforcement to determine the degree to which complaints in a given industry match overall industry compliance. Specifically, the study analyzes the relationship between minimum wage complaints filed with the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) and estimates of underlying minimum wage violations, using data from the U.S. government’s monthly survey of labor force participation (called CPS-MORG survey data). The findings indicate that the complaint-based model is inadequate for many San Francisco workers who are most vulnerable to minimum wage violations. Read more and access the study documents here


 

Trainings

  • Strategic Enforcement Kick-off Training for Managers - February 25-26, 2020.  Earlier this year, 70 managers at the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJ DOL) participated in a two-day Strategic Enforcement Training. This Kick-off Training is part of a larger ongoing partnership between the workplace justice lab @ RU and NJ DOL to scale up strategic enforcement in New Jersey. Read more here.

Webinars

  • Publicizing Violators to Increase Compliance:  A Conversation about Effective Naming and Shaming Techniques to Maximize the Resources of Labor Standards Enforcement Agencies (May 2022)

  • Strategic Co-Enforcement and Worker Power: Supporting Workers Through the COVID Recession and Beyond - partnership with EARN (March 2021) 
  • Enforcing Labor Standards in a Recession: An Opportunity to Support Workers Who Risk Their Lives (September 2020) 
  • 2019 Paid Sick Days Roundup (December 2019) 

In partnership with CLASP, Janice Fine organized 5 webinars in 2017, that recruited participants from LA City and County, Santa Monica, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego agencies to participate in. On average each webinar included 100-120 participants from across the country.


Past Events