Labor and employment law is a dynamic area of law that touches one of the most fundamental aspects of any society – peoples’ work. Almost everyone works for a living, as do all the adults that they know. Yet, few are aware of the actual laws that govern their worklives.

  • For management, legal counsel must advice clients on how to best comply with federal, state, and local wage and hour regulations, health and safety rules, employment discrimination law, and in collective bargaining.
  • Labor union lawyers counsel workers who engage in concerted activities to improve their conditions at work, seek union representation, and bargain collectively with management.
  • Employment lawyers also represent plaintiffs in civil rights cases, wage and hour proceedings, and other matters. All lawyers in this practice might represent clients in diverse litigation settings, including federal and state courts, administrative agencies, and arbitration tribunals.
  • Government lawyers, such as those in the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board, work directly with employers and employees to administer and enforce the law.
  • State attorneys general are now also getting involved in prosecuting certain forms of labor and employment law violations around the country.

Given its breadth and scope in business and public discourse, labor and employment law figures prominently in the news. Movements such as #MeToo, technology workers seeking representation in their company boards or to be represented by a union, “gig” workers seeking treatment as “employees” for purposes of minimum wage regulation or collective bargaining, or “essential workers” seeking better health and safety protections, hazard pay, and paid sick leave are but some of the headline-grabbing issues where the practice of labor and employment law is going today.


Employment Discrimination 

An overview of legal prohibitions against discrimination in employment on the basis of race, sex, national origin and age. The major portion of the course is devoted to the study of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The course also considers selected procedural and remedial problems, as well as elementary issues of proof.

Employment Law

This course deals with the legal rights of employers and employees in those private workplaces, that do not have unions, which is more than 90% of work settings. This course covers issues of hiring eligibility and licensing, minimum wage, designations of employment versus independent contractor status, employee handbooks, workplace privacy, termination, employment-related intellectual property issues, covenants not to compete, occupational safety and health regulation, workers’ compensation, and unemployment eligibility. Each of these topics will be set into a context of historical origins, new developments and contemporary trends.

International and Comparative Labor & Employment Law 

In today’s global economy, world business leaders require advice regarding non-US law, including the labor and employment laws that regulate their work forces. Moreover, and for similar reasons, labor advocates increasingly seek to hold countries accountable for failing to live up to international labor standards promulgated by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and other international bodies. They also try to hold lead firms that manage global value chains accountable to workers based on public and private sources of law, including corporate codes of conduct.

Labor Law

The course focuses on the regulation of worker/union-employer relations in the private sector by the National Labor Relations Act, which was enacted during the turmoil of the Great Depression in 1935 and significantly amended in 1947 by the first Republican-controlled Congress since the New Deal. Following a brief historical introduction to the court-centered legal framework of national labor regulation during the late 19th and early 20th century, the course considers: the law relating to unionized employees and firms; employees’ right to engage in concerted activities including organizing into unions; the scope and process of collective bargaining; economic weapons such as strikes, pickets, boycotts, and lockouts; and the enforcement of collective bargaining agreements. Stress is placed on lawyers’ role in dealing with judicial, administrative, and arbitral tribunals that enforce labor law and with the complex interrelationships among policies, statutes, courts, and the National Labor Relations Board. 

Low Wage Workers Seminar

The History of Free Labor Seminar

Clinical Law Internship

Students work directly with faculty members in an in-house program on cases involving civil rights and liberties, statutory entitlements, criminal defense, and general representation in civil matters.  The Clinic offers special programs relating to employment law, farm bankruptcy and the representation of persons with the HIV virus.  Interns participate fully in interviewing, fact investigation, negotiation, and courtroom proceedings.

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Labor Center

Building the labor movement through education
Labor and employment law clinic icon

Legal Clinic

Where students act as attorneys, not interns
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Field Placements

Performing legal tasks in a professional setting


Headshot of Professor Cesar Rosado Marzan

César F. Rosado Marzán

Edward L. Carmody Professor of Law
Director, Graduate Programs & Visiting Scholars
Professor Rosado Marzán is internationally known for his award-winning research and scholarship in labor and employment law. He studies the various ways workers organize to gain power and better represent their interests, be it through traditional labor unions or so-called "alt-labor" organizations.
John Allen (3)

John S. Allen

Herschel G. Langdon Clinical Professor of Law
Professor Allen and his students represent clients before courts and administrative agencies in a broad range of civil matters. Much of his work has focused on employment law, including employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, and unemployment insurance cases.
Lea VanderVelde (2)

Lea VanderVelde

University of Iowa Distinguished Chair
Director of the RAOS project, (Reconstruction Amendment Optical Scanning)
Lea VanderVelde researches 19th century lives, court decisions, and other occurrences that significantly impacted the course of American law, particularly in the areas of slavery, work, property, and the Constitution. She is currently using digital research technologies to examine American national expansion in the critical years before the Civil War and the Reconstruction Congress debates that enhanced American freedom.  
Boyd Law Building entrance

Marc Linder

Professor of Law
Professor Linder represented migrant farm workers at Texas Rural Legal Aid for seven years. Before then, he pursued graduate studies at the universities at Göttingen and West Berlin and taught at Roskilde University Center in Denmark, the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, and the UI College of Law. Professor Linder specializes in Labor Law.