Labor Law: Wage and Hours Law

The wage and hour laws have become and will remain an important element in the protection of low wage immigrant workers. Many of these new immigrants are easily exploited because of their limited work skills, limited English language ability, and alien status. The wage and hour laws can to some extent protect these workers by providing for minimum wages and overtime pay and prohibiting child labor and take-home work. These laws cover almost all workers including domestic workers in the home, garment workers in the factory and manual laborers hired off the street. The wage and hour laws are rarely part of the traditional labor law or employment law curricula of law schools where the focus is on union-management issues and on discrimination. Any student interested in sweatshop labor and the exploitation of immigrant workers needs to understand these laws.

The seminar focuses substantively on the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. and on New York Labor Law 190 §§ et seq. and 650 et seq. in the context of low wage immigrant workers. The course material is a mix of statutory and case law as well as transcripts from actual cases in which the workers speak for themselves. The seminar investigates why the exploitation of these immigrant workers continues despite these laws, despite administrative enforcement, and despite the unionization of some of the industries where these practices predominate.

Credits: 2

Type: SEM