Internal Dispute Resolution: The Transformation of Civil Rights in the Workplace
27 Law & Society Review 497 (1993)
39 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2014
Date Written: September 24, 2014
Many employers create internal procedures for the resolution of discrimination complaints. We examine internal complaint handlers' conceptions of civil rights law and the implications of those conceptions for their approach to dispute resolution. Drawing on interview data, we find that complaint handlers tend to subsume legal rights under managerial interests. They construct civil rights law as a diffuse standard of fairness, consistent with general norms of good management. Although they seek to resolve complaints to restore smooth employment relations, they tend to recast discrimination claims as typical managerial problems. While the assimilation of law into the management realm may extend the reach of law, it may also undermine legal rights by deemphasizing and depoliticizing workplace discrimination.
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