Workers' Rights

All workers have the right to a safe and healthful workplace and a fair wage. But the American workplace has changed dramatically since many of our labor laws were last updated, creating new hazards for workers, and transforming the relationship between employer and employee. New, bigger, more powerful equipment has come online. New chemicals and other toxic substances have come into routine use. New production and construction methods have been introduced.

At the same time, more and more employers rely on “contingent” workers instead of permanent employees to perform jobs at all levels. Employers are also fighting grassroots efforts to raise the minimum wage, denying sick leave and family medical leave, misclassifying workers to avoid overtime pay, and retaliating against workers who report wrongdoing.

Worker deaths or injuries resulting from conditions that violate workplace safety laws are still too common. Often, rather than treating these deadly violations of the law as subjects for criminal investigation, prosecutors simply defer to OSHA or comparable state agencies, significantly reducing the scope of possible penalties, and reducing any deterrent effect as violations are "punished" with light fines. CPR's first-of-its-kind Crimes Against Workers database catalogs state criminal cases brought by enlightened prosecutors, as well as grassroots advocacy campaigns against employers responsible for workers being killed, maimed, or seriously endangered on the job.

Through research and scholarship, CPR Member Scholars and staff offer local, state, and federal policymakers and prosecutors tools to make sure all workers have a safe workplace and a fair deal for their labor. See their work below. Use the search box to narrow the list.

Amazon workers scored a huge union victory but face a tough road ahead

The union victory at Amazon’s JFK8 facility in Staten Island was truly remarkable. A majority of the employees there voted last week for union representation despite the company’s hard-nosed union avoidance tactics, marking the first successful U.S. organizing effort in the company’s history.

Type: Op-Eds (April 8, 2022)
Read PDF
Author(s): Michael C. Duff
U.S. House Moves to Build a FAIR-er Justice System

The U.S. House of Representatives has taken an important step to repair our system of civil justice and advance equity and justice for all. On March 17, the House passed the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, which would block companies from forcing Americans to settle disputes in a rigged system of arbitration rather than in an impartial court of law. The act now heads to the U.S. Senate.

Type: News Releases (March 17, 2022)
Read PDF Read Online
Author(s): M. Isabelle Chaudry
Webinar: Forced Arbitration, Workers, and Marginalized Communities

Arbitration requires people to go through a private dispute resolution process, is often biased against workers and consumers, and typically slams the courthouse doors on those who are injured or harmed in the workplace. It's a standard condition in most, if not all, non-union employment and consumer contracts, and it's considered “forced” because few consumers or workers are aware that they are agreeing to mandatory arbitration when they sign such contracts. This requires them to resolve many types of alleged violations of state and federal laws through arbitration, including laws passed to protect against harmful and dangerous products, consumer fraud, employment discrimination, and other forms of wrongdoing. In our Feb. 15 webinar, co-hosted with the Workers' Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center, experts discussed how workers and historically marginalized communities are adversely impacted by forced arbitration. The Center for Progressive Reform's recent report on the topic served as a springboard for the discussion.

Type: Webinars (Feb. 15, 2022)
Read Online
Author(s): M. Isabelle Chaudry
"A Good Day for Justice"

We at the Center for Progressive Reform applaud the U.S. Senate for clearing critical women’s safety legislation that would enable survivors of sexual assault and harassment to hold their abusers accountable in court. The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House with broad bipartisan support earlier this week and now heads to President Biden’s desk. We eagerly await his signature.

Type: News Releases (Feb. 10, 2022)
Read PDF Read Online
Author(s): M. Isabelle Chaudry
Private Courts, Biased Outcomes: The Adverse Impact of Forced Arbitration on People of Color, Women, Low-Income Americans, and Nursing Home Residents

A tidal wave of corporate contract provisions has forced consumers and workers into arbitration. Millions are now subject to such “agreements.” Most are unaware that they have lost the right to file a case in court; even those who are aware likely have no choice but to accept a ban on going to court because so many corporations impose forced arbitration. Congress must end forced arbitration and restore the capacity of individuals and the courts to hold businesses accountable for illegal and irresponsible actions that disproportionally harm historically marginalized communities. Congress must also restore access to class action lawsuits, which is how historically marginalized communities can effectively hold corporations accountable for widespread discrimination and other harms. And Congress must restore the authority of federal judges to enforce laws protecting women and people of color from discrimination and workers from wage theft, to guarantee these laws provide the protections intended.

Type: Reports (Feb. 9, 2022)
Read PDF Read Online
Author(s): Sidney Shapiro, Michael C. Duff, Thomas McGarity, M. Isabelle Chaudry
Rampant Forced Arbitration Clauses in Corporate Contracts Take Greatest Toll on Historically Marginalized Groups, New Report Finds

Corporations are subjecting millions of American workers and consumers to legal clauses that force them to settle claims in a rigged system of forced arbitration instead of an impartial courthouse — an alarming trend that harms historically marginalized groups, according to a new report by the Center for Progressive Reform.

Type: News Releases (Feb. 9, 2022)
Read PDF Read Online
Learning Lessons to Protect Workers Through Pandemics

Although vaccination rates continue to rise and coverage on COVID-19 is fading away from prominent news dashboards, our rates are still higher than in summer 2020. While we still adapt to living and working with COVID-19, we must prepare for future public health emergencies so we do not lose another year figuring out our response.

Type: Op-Eds (Nov. 16, 2021)
Read PDF
Author(s): M. Isabelle Chaudry, Emily Ranson
Joint Letter to the U.S. State Department on the Pending Au Pair Rule

The Center for Progressive Reform joined more than 100 workers’ rights organizations, national organizations, and local and community organizations in opposing the U.S. State Department's pending au pair rule. The rule would undermines labor standards and is at odds with the administration’s support for care workers.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Nov. 12, 2021)
Read PDF
Testimony to Subcommittees of the House Education and Labor Committee on the Biden Administration's COVID-19 Vaccine Standard for Workplaces

On October 26, 2021, CPR Vice President Sidney Shapiro testified about the need and legality of the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine standard for workplaces. Shapiro presented his testimony to the Workplace Protections and Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittees of the House Education and Labor Committee.

Type: Legislative Testimony (Oct. 26, 2021)
Read PDF
Author(s): Sidney Shapiro
Testimony to the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Division of Labor and Industry on Heat Stress Protections

CPR Senior Policy Analyst M. Isabelle Chaudry testified to the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) Division of Labor and Industry about heat stress protections for Maryland workers. She provided the agency with recommendations to ensure that its forthcoming standard is effective, strong, and worker-centered.

Type: Letters to Agencies (Sept. 23, 2021)
Read PDF
Author(s): M. Isabelle Chaudry

Advanced Search Filters

Reset Filters