FACULTY MEMORANDUM ON LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW
Updated September 2011
Faculty: Linda Bosniak, Philip Harvey, Stacy Hawkins, Natalie Hull, Pam Jenoff, Earl Maltz
Adjunct Faculty: Hon. Richard Hickey, Laurence Rosoff
The role of lawyers in counseling employers and employees concerning their legal rights and obligations vis-a-vis one another has grown dramatically during the twentieth century. During the past several decades, it has been one of the most rapidly growing areas of legal practice.
Career opportunities in the field include positions in both large and small private law firms, corporate legal departments, trade unions, public interest law firms, and a wide variety of government entities (either as regulators of employment practices or as counsel to the entities in their capacity as employers themselves).
Employment Law is a broad survey course intended to introduce students to the field, with special emphasis on common law and statutory causes of action other than Title VII covered in Employment Discrimination Law and the National Labor Relations Act covered in Labor Law (both described below). Topics covered in the course include wrongful discharge litigation based on exceptions to the employment at will doctrine, employer trade secret protection, employee privacy rights, employer liability for defamatory references, employee drug and psychological testing, the regulation of pensions and other fringe benefits, occupational safety and health regulation, unemployment insurance, workers compensation, family and medical leaves, and employee rights in the event of plant closings or employer bankruptcy. Although not a prerequisite for other labor and employment law courses, this is a good first course for students to take in the field.
Employment Discrimination Law provides students with a systematic introduction to federal employment discrimination law. The course focuses on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the paradigmatic statute in this field, but some attention also is given to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
Labor Law introduces students to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) which regulates employee concerted activity, union representation and collective bargaining in the private sector. Since public sector labor relations law generally is modeled on the NLRA, this course also provides students with the foundation they will need to practice in that field as well.
The three courses described above provide students with a comprehensive grounding in the field of labor and employment law. They all are offered on a regular basis in both the day and evening. More specialized courses in the field are also offered. These include Employee Benefits Law (focusing on the regulation of employee benefit plans through the tax code), Labor Law Practice (focusing on contract negotiation and arbitration practice in a collective bargaining context), and Workers Compensation (focusing on state compensation systems for work related injuries and illnesses). Elder Law and ERISA/Employee Benefits are courses that focus on the law as it concerns America’s aging population.
Other courses that students with an interest in labor and employment law are likely to find helpful include Administrative Law; Alternative Dispute Resolution; Disability Law; Health Law; Law, Justice, and Society; and offerings on sex discrimination law.