Justice at Work? Civil Rights and Labor Law and the Workplace

Weekly Schedules: |One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten |

Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, Seminar II A1107

Can there be justice in the workplace? In the second quarter of this program, we'll look at the history of civil rights/anti-discrimination law as written in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Civil Rights laws define a set of workers' rights, but they also reflect the shape of power in society. These texts were written by lawmakers, but in another sense, they were written in the streets and workplaces during turbulent times. Class and racial biases exist in, and are reproduced by, the laws and their practices. In this program we'll look at the following questions: What social movements and conditions brought the Civil Rights Act, especially Title VII, into being? How did the struggles at their roots shape the laws? How do they affect the workplace today? Are the laws effective, and for whom? We will examine some related controversies, including affirmative action. Students will become acquainted with critiques developed by scholars in critical race theory, which help us think about power in the larger society and alternative possibilities for justice. During the quarter, we will be especially fortunate to welcome Rev. James Lawson as a special guest. Rev. Lawson has a long history of leadership in civil rights, peace and labor movements, from resistance to the Korean War, to the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike, to current immigrant and low-wage worker struggles in southern California.

Be prepared for fun, active problem-solving and lots of hard work. Students will learn to do, or continue to advance their skills, in basic legal and historical research. You'll interpret historical events and the law together, to understand larger social issues and future implications of cases and legislation. You will get a sense of the real work of attorneys and courts, but also the work of community activists and union stewards. Student projects will focus on current workplace controversies relating to these laws. Though there are no prerequisites, students should be prepared with some basic background in 20th century American history and should have the patience and persistence to read detailed history, statutes and legal cases. The class will be particularly useful for those interested in careers in law, labor organizing, history, social justice, public administration and management. Students who are new to the program should contact faculty for a new student assignment.

Spring Quarter books:

* Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law, by Stephen Elias, Susan Levinkind, Richard Stim, Nolo Press Nolo Press, 14th edition, 2007
* Race, Gender, and Discrimination at Work, by Samuel Cohn, Westview Press, 2000
* Black Labor and the American Legal System : Race, Work, and the Law, by Herbert Hill Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1986
* Eyes on the Prize, by Juan Williams, (1988) Penguin USA, 2002 edition
* Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Richard Delgado, Jean Stefancic, Angela Harris, New York University Press, 2001
* From Direct Action to Affirmative Action : Fair Employment Law and Policy in America, 1933-1972 by Paul D. Moreno, Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1999.

Contact Faculty | Academic Program Pages