Internal Dispute Resolution: The Transformation of Civil Rights in the Workplace

39 Pages Posted: 26 Sep 2014

See all articles by Howard S. Erlanger

Howard S. Erlanger

University of Wisconsin Law School

Lauren B. Edelman

University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence & Social Policy Program and Center for the Study of Law and Society

John Lande

University of Missouri School of Law

Date Written: September 24, 2014

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Erlanger, Howard S. and Edelman, Lauren B. and Lande, John, Internal Dispute Resolution: The Transformation of Civil Rights in the Workplace (September 24, 2014). 27 Law & Society Review 497 (1993); Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1307. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2500921

Howard S. Erlanger (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin Law School ( email )

975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.wisc.edu/facstaff/biog.php?iID=266

Lauren B. Edelman

University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence & Social Policy Program and Center for the Study of Law and Society ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-642-4038 (Phone)
510-643-6171 (Fax)

John Lande

University of Missouri School of Law ( email )

Hulston Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
United States

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