The Labor & Employment Law Forum is edited and published on a quarterly basis by its staff at the American University Washington College of Law.
Articles published by the Forum reflect the views of the individual author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Forum or the Washington College of Law.
The Forum was founded in 2010 to provide a specific and neutral forum for students, scholars, practitioners, and organizations to explore the complex developments of the law governing the workplace. It serves as a medium that highlights emerging developments in labor and employment law and explores the legal issues that arise under this area of law.
“We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” – Justice Louis Brandeis
“At the turn of the century women earned approximately ten cents an hour, and men were fortunate to receive twenty cents an hour. The average work week was sixty to seventy hours. During the thirties, wages were a secondary issue; to have a job at all was the difference between the agony of starvation and a flicker of life. The nation, now so vigorous, reeled and tottered almost to total collapse. The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old age pensions, government relief for the destitute, and above all new wage levels that meant not mere survival, but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over our nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Labor and employment law is an area of law that impacts every single individual in this country, if not all around the world. It addresses some of the most important and fundamental issues of law—as exemplified by its coverage in most, if not all of foundational law school courses. Labor and employment remains the second-most litigated topic in the Federal Courts.
Washington, D.C. is the home of the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for both the D.C. and Federal Circuits, the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Merit Systems Protection Board, numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations, most—if not all— of the unions in this country, and the Chamber of Commerce.
Yet, as of April, 2010, there were only five student-run legal publications that specifically focus on labor and employment law, nationwide and none in Washington, DC.
The Washington College of Law (“WCL”) was founded in 1896 by two women, Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett, for the sole purpose of providing opportunities for those historically outside the mainstream of the legal profession. WCL has a long-standing tradition of educating students about the values of dignity, diversity, and equal rights for all. In addition, it has a reputation for being one of the preeminent institutions in the country for its programs on international law, human rights, business law, and law and government. Because of WCL’s focus on these areas of law, it is no surprise that the school boasts over fifteen professors teaching approximately two dozen courses and seminars focused on aspects of labor and employment law. Furthermore, WCL’s clinical programs each intersect with prominent issues in labor and employment law. WCL’s commitment to the importance of labor and employment law is further exemplified by the Labor and Employment Law & Policy specialization within the Program on Law and Government’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) curriculum—one of the few LL.M.’s nationwide that offers this specialization.
In April, 2010, we sought to help supplement and focus this related academic elements already present at WCL by founding the sixth student-run legal publication in this area—The Labor and Employment Law Forum.
The Forum is a novel publication at WCL and serves as an experiment looking towards the future of legal publications. Early on, the decision was made to partner with the Digital Commons and provide a forum for thought-compelling, legal scholarship with an emphasis on shorter, timely works, with an emphasis on fast-turn around—articles that might otherwise lose their relevance, or simply be overlooked by, traditional law reviews. The Digital Commons gives us, and we hope our readers, the ability to access polished articles in the native format that most all legal scholarship is currently being read—electronically. Besides the desire to be “green” and cost-effective, this format allows us to provide material that often disappears into obscurity; transcripts and annotations from events that occur both here at WCL and around the Washington, D.C. area that are vital to the academic discussion of labor and employment law.