The Future of Labor Localism in an Age of Preemption

ILR Review, XX(X), Month 201X, pp. 1–23

Columbia Public Law Research Paper Forthcoming

Posted: 15 Jan 2021

Date Written: November 19, 2020


In recent years, labor and civil rights groups have successfully pushed for local regulation raising the minimum wage, creating new parenting and sick leave policies, and broadening anti-discrimination protections to address sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. This article examines the viability of this worker-protective regulation at the local level in the face of current legal and political challenges. In particular, it considers the rise of state preemption laws that overturn local ordinances, which is the product of anti-regulatory mobilization at the state legislative level. The article provides case studies of state preemption and offers potential legal arguments for challenging preemption and safeguarding labor and civil rights localism. The author concludes, however, that given the uncertainty of whether these legal arguments will prevail in court, civil rights and labor advocates will need to engage politics at the state level to preserve and expand local innovations.

Keywords: discrimination, gay/bisexual men and women, gender discrimination, labor and employment law, minimum wage legislation, civil rights, federalism, localism, state legislature, preemption

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Olatunde C., The Future of Labor Localism in an Age of Preemption (November 19, 2020). ILR Review, XX(X), Month 201X, pp. 1–23, Columbia Public Law Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Olatunde C. Johnson (Contact Author)

Columbia University Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

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