What are the most important issues facing your field?
I recently spoke at a conference sponsored by the Industrial Labor Relations School at Cornell University, entitled Labor and the U.S. Constitution: Past Present and Future. In a time of numerous changes at the federal workplace agencies and the federal courts, it is important to return to the fundamental principles that undergird modern workplace protections: 1) federal laws have been designed to provide greater bargaining power to workers; 2) laws prohibiting arbitrary discrimination exist to promote the dignity of all persons; and 3) minimum labor standards laws exist to ensure that work is compensated according to a minimum standard of decency. These are the foundations of federal labor law, employment law and the U.S. Constitution, so I am glad to be teaching and researching in each of these areas. My recent article on Minimum Wage Laws and the Thirteenth Amendment is part of an ongoing Project of legal scholars, historians and advocates to apply the meanings of the Amendment’s prohibition of “slavery and involuntary servitude” to contemporary problems like sub-minimum wages, limits on the right to strike and covenants not to compete. I am privileged to be part of a national and international community of scholars.
What do you like best about teaching?
I decided to become an attorney because it is a helping profession, and that is also why I became a law teacher. I love being a resource for students in every part of their educations, from learning the material in class, to working on writing projects, to providing encouragement and support in their career and professional goals. I know that not all of them will be Workplace Lawyers, so I try to help them find a place in the profession that is satisfying to them the way that being a labor lawyer was for me: helping people and feeling like you are part of something bigger than yourself or your own personal concerns.
What organizations are important to you?
There are so many organizations that I support, but most of my time is occupied by my service on the National Board of the American Constitution Society, an organization of academics, attorneys, judges and students dedicated to the proposition that the law should be a force to improve the lives of all people. The ACS has chapters throughout the country including a law student and lawyer chapter in Las Vegas. I always look forward to the high quality ACS national, regional and online programs to keep up with statutory and constitutional law developments. Also, I recently was elected as a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, so I am eager to get more involved with their activities, including student writing competitions and ethics trainings to promote the field of Labor and Employment Law.
What keeps you busy in your spare time?
My wife Tori and I recently adopted an English Bulldog, named Maya! She is a handful, but very sweet and cuddly. The other thing we like to do is cook, so we spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Maya enjoys that too. We are also getting ready to go to Hawai’i to celebrate the big 5-0. I don’t anticipate riding a wave, but it seems like a good time to start!