Unregulated Work in the Global City - Full Report

Publication Date: January 2007

Publisher: Brennan Center for Justice

Author(s): Annette Bernhardt; Siobhan McGrath; James DeFilippis

Research Area: Labor

Keywords: Employee Abuse; Poor Working Conditions; Fair Wages

Type: Report

Coverage: New York


In this report, we describe a world of work that lies outside the experience and imagination of many Americans. It is a world where jobs pay less than the minimum wage, and sometimes nothing at all; where employers do not pay overtime for 60-hour weeks, and deny meal breaks that are required by law; where vital health and safety regulations are routinely ignored, even after injuries occur; and where workers are subject to blatant discrimination, and retaliated against for speaking up or trying to organize. Such conditions exist here in New York City, in occupations and industries that span the breadth of the city’s economy. They are not isolated, short-lived cases of exploitation at the fringe of the city’s economy. Instead, the systematic violation of our country’s core employment and labor laws – what we call “unregulated work” – is threatening to become a way of doing business for unscrupulous employers. And yet from the standpoint of public policy, these jobs (and the workers who hold them) are too often off the radar screen.