Get to Work or Go to Jail: Workplace Rights Under Threat

Report published by UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UCLA Labor Center, A New Way of Life Reentry Project (March 2016). (With Tia Koonse, UCLA Labor Center, Theresa Zhen, A New Way of Life Rentry Project, et. al.)

UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-24

23 Pages Posted: 3 May 2016 Last revised: 5 May 2016

See all articles by Noah Zatz

Noah Zatz

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Tia Koonse

Independent

Theresa Zhen

Independent

Lucero Herrera

Independent

Han Lu

Independent

Steven Shafer

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Blake Valenta

Independent

Date Written: March 1, 2016

Abstract

This research report explores how workers are threatened with incarceration if they fail or refuse to work to the government’s satisfaction. We identify three areas where this occurs: probation and parole, child-support enforcement, and collection of criminal justice debt. In each case, we explain the legal basis for this threat and present original data documenting both how often this threat is carried out and how it disproportionately affects low-income people and people of color. We further identify four ways these threats may undermine workplace rights, drawing both on individual examples and on analogies to welfare work requirements, prison labor, and workplace immigration enforcement. These four mechanisms are depressing labor standards by forcing workers to take worse jobs, enabling employer retaliation by making job loss a potential trigger for incarceration, evading legal protections by forcing workers into work arrangements deemed not to involve employment relationships, and displacing or undermining other workers by giving employers access to a more vulnerable substitute workforce.

Keywords: criminal just system, court-ordered community service, workplace rights, probation/parole

Suggested Citation

Zatz, Noah and Koonse, Tia and Zhen, Theresa and Herrera, Lucero and Lu, Han and Shafer, Steven and Valenta, Blake, Get to Work or Go to Jail: Workplace Rights Under Threat (March 1, 2016). Report published by UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UCLA Labor Center, A New Way of Life Reentry Project (March 2016). (With Tia Koonse, UCLA Labor Center, Theresa Zhen, A New Way of Life Rentry Project, et. al.), UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 16-24, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2774528

Noah Zatz (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

Tia Koonse

Independent ( email )

Theresa Zhen

Independent

Lucero Herrera

Independent ( email )

Han Lu

Independent

Steven Shafer

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

Blake Valenta

Independent

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