State and Local Enforcement Project

The role of states and localities in protecting workers’ rights has never been more important. New officials and agencies are engaging in labor standards enforcement, new laws are being passed and new enforcement strategies are being tested. The Enforcement Project, funded in part by the Public Welfare Foundation, fills a critical need in examining and strengthening innovative state and local actions and initiatives. 

The Enforcement Project works with government agencies and officials engaged in enforcing workplace laws. Among other things, the project:

  • Collaborates with state attorneys general, convening a network of offices interested in protecting the working people of their states;
  • Seeks to develop the potential role of district attorneys in enforcing workplace laws; and
  •  Provides technical assistance to state and local government labor agencies, as well as to worker organizations and advocacy groups seeking to collaborate more effectively with government.
  • Conducts research on matters affecting low-wage workers, and potential ways states and municipalities can address their needs.


E N F O R C E M E N T   P R O J E C T   B L O G - Click here for full blog listing

Enforcement Project in the News

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Why the Gig Economy Matters — Even If It’s Small

September 18, 2019

By Sarah Kessler

When I started reporting on gig workers in 2014, I was surprised to find some of the people who represented labor organizations would respond to my inquiries with mild irritation. But is this really a harmful distraction from the wider workforce? In my book, Gigged, I argued that the gig economy was like a Trojan horse — that problems faced by Uber and Lyft drivers are shared by other types of workers, and that...

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More Employers Turn to Arbitration to Handle Job Claims

December 6, 2018

By Jaclyn Diaz
Bloomber Law


Many major employers, including other tech companies that have done away with mandatory clauses on harassment, maintain arbitration agreements for most wage-and-hour and discrimination claims. The use of arbitration clauses to handle employment claims is becoming more prevalent in the workplace, sources told Bloomberg Law.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys and worker advocates are hoping employers will end the practice for all employment claims, saying it’s especially harmful for low-wage workers.

Arbitration clauses...

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Tech companies like Google are giving workers the right to take sexual harassment claims to court — but employees are calling for more

November 19, 2018

Employees and labor activists say they want to see an end to forced arbitration in all cases — not just for sexual harassment — and for all workers.
By Shirin Ghaffary and Rani Molla


Amid increasing public scrutiny, many major tech companies are reconsidering a practice that bars workers from taking their employer to court over workplace issues such as sexual harassment.

In the past two weeks alone, Google, Facebook, Airbnb, eBay and Square all announced they’d end forced arbitration for cases of sexual harassment. Forced arbitration is an agreement that requires employees to settle disputes in-house rather than in the courts,

The announcement is good news for tech employees because arbitration generally works in favor of employers and tends to involve lower payouts than traditional court cases.


“I’m glad sexual harassment is getting that visibility,” Terri Gerstein, director of the state and local enforcement project at Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program, told Recode. “I want other workplace abuses to get this visibility, too.”

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BuzzFeed Is Ending Forced Arbitration Policy For Sexual Harassment Claims Following Inquiries

November 20, 2018

Davey Alba
BuzzFeed News 

BuzzFeed will end its requirement of mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment and sexual assault claims — a policy that prevents workers from airing their grievances in open court — after BuzzFeed News raised questions about the company’s policy as part of a larger investigation into the practice in the tech industry.

Forced arbitration policies “can be both standard [in workplaces] and wrong at...

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End Forced Arbitration for Sexual Harassment. Then Do More.

End Forced Arbitration for Sexual Harassment. Then Do More.

November 14, 2018

By Terri Gerstein
NY Times Opinion

In the end, the most compelling reason for a company to foist arbitration on its work force is to avoid liability and public exposure that might result from a court case. But if a company wants to avoid liability, blocking workers from court isn’t the best way to do that. The answer is to create a fair and lawful workplace, the best possible workplace, for everyone who contributes to a company’s success and to give workers a voice. 

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Accenture Workers Petition to End $297 Million Border Patrol Contract

November 15, 2018

By Josh Eidelson

Accenture employees are circulating a petition urging the company to cancel its contract to help the Trump administration recruit border patrol agents, the latest in a wave of recent technology-fueled protests by white-collar workers challenging potential collaboration with law enforcement.

“You’re seeing people taking collective action – not just for themselves, in relation to their own salary or hours or benefits, but they’re showing real solidarity,” said Harvard Law School fellow Terri Gerstein, former head of the New York attorney general’s labor bureau.

“They’re defining their working conditions to include what their work is ultimately used for,” she said. “People don’t want to just be a cog in something that they think is deeply wrong.”... Read more about Accenture Workers Petition to End $297 Million Border Patrol Contract

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