Employment and Labor Law

Washington University School of Law offers students a rich and varied course of study in the dynamic field of employment and labor law.  Faculty members in the field have also been widely published in law reviews, casebooks, and treatises.

Courses and Scholarship 

The law school offers its students a breadth of courses related to employment and labor law, including Employment Law, Employment Discrimination, and Labor Law.  The law school enriches the traditional core curriculum in employment and labor law with seminars, clinical programs, and specialized courses.

The courses are taught by nationally-recognized Professors Marion Crain, Deborah Dinner, Pauline Kim, Laura Rosenbury, and Peggie Smith.  Faculty members include preeminent experts in employment and labor law and produce some of the most influential scholarship in the field. 

Professor Crain is the co-author of the leading labor law casebook, now in its 12th edition, as well as an employment law casebook co-authored with Professor Kim.  She has also written numerous law review articles and book chapters on labor and employment law, labor unionism, and the working poor. Professor Crain serves as the Chair of the Labor Law Group, an international collective of labor and employment law professors who work collaboratively to improve labor and employment law pedagogy through the production of course materials and scholarship, and serves on the editorial board of the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal.  Additionally, Professor Crain directs the law school’s Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Work and Social Capital.   

In addition to being the co-author of an employment law casebook, Professor Kim is an advisor to the ALI’s Restatement of Employment Law. She has been published in some of the nation’s most prestigious law reviews on issues such as job security, employee privacy, the federal judiciary, and the influences on judicial decision-making.

Professor Smith is a leading scholar in the regulation of care work that occurs both inside and outside the home, including child care, home care, and elder care. She is also the co-author of a treatise on employment law and has published widely on issues such as home-based care work, work and family balance, parental-status employment discrimination, and elder care.  She regularly presents her scholarship at conferences and colloquia throughout the United States and overseas.   

Professor Dinner is a legal historian whose research focuses on the history of gender, work, and family. She recently completed her dissertation on “The Law of Work and Family: Feminism and the Transformation of the American Workplace at Century’s End.”  Her chapter, “The Costs of Life:  Maternal Employment, Reproductive Choice, and the Debate over Pregnancy Disability Benefits,” was selected for presentation at the 2012 Junior Faculty Forum at Harvard Law School.

Other Opportunities 

To complement coursework, students have the opportunity to gain practical skills outside of the classroom, including through an externship with the Department of Labor, through the law school’s Congressional and Administrative Law Externship, and an externship with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, through the law school’s Civil Rights, Community Justice and Mediation Clinic.

Law students interested in employment and labor law also take advantage of opportunities available through the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Work and Social Capital, which focuses on the study of work and social capital, with particular attention to the role that social class, race, and gender play in structuring relationships in society. The Center offers students the opportunity to attend symposia and lectures and to assist with sponsored research projects that focus on work (waged and unwaged) and social capital (the value that lies in networks of relationships).  Students are also encouraged to attend the Work, Families and Public Policy Seminar Series, a biweekly seminar series with topics relating to labor, households, health care, law, and social welfare.

Related Subjects 

Students interested in employment and labor law may also benefit from courses within the negotiation and dispute resolution curriculum and courses on the taxation of employee benefits. The taxation courses are taught by Professor Peter Wiedenbeck, the author of two books on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and the leading casebook on the taxation of employee benefits, as well as by practitioners in the field.