Professors Susan Bisom-Rapp and Rebecca Lee presented papers at the Eighth Annual Colloquium on Current Scholarship in Labor and Employment Law. This year’s colloquium was held on September 27 – 28 and was hosted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) by the William S. Boyd School of Law. UNLV Professors Ruben Garcia and Ann McGinley organized the conference. In 2008, Thomas Jefferson School of Law co-hosted the event in San Diego along with the University of San Diego and California Western Schools of Law.
“The annual colloquium has become the premier national conference for labor and employment law works-in-progress,” said Professor Bisom-Rapp, “drawing labor and employment law professors from around the country.” A highlight of this year’s conference was a dinner hosted at the union hall of the Culinary Workers (Local 226). Accompanying the dinner was a panel, “Labor’s History and Future in Nevada: From the Mines to the Casinos,” featuring speakers who are labor leaders inLas Vegas and including a talk by labor historian Professor Michael Green of the College of Southern Nevada. Professors Bisom-Rapp and Lee presented their papers at UNLV on September 27. Professor Bisom-Rapp’s paper, “It’s Complicated: Age, Gender, and Lifetime Discrimination against Working Women – the U.S. and the U.K. as Examples,” is co-authored with Professor Malcolm Sargeant, who teaches at Middlesex University Business School in London, UK. The paper tackles a pressing problem facing women in old age – the problem of falling into poverty at the end of their lives. Women in both countries suffer from multiple disadvantages before and during their working lives, resulting in significantly poorer outcomes in old age when compared to men. Older women of color are especially disadvantaged.
To address the causal factors, Bisom-Rapp and Sargeant develop a model of Lifetime Disadvantage, which considers the major factors that on average produce unequal outcomes for working women at the end of their careers. Integral to the model are the legal and policy efforts that lessen or magnify the factors’ lifetime effects. Bisom-Rapp and Sargeant argue that regulatory schemes created on a piecemeal basis are unlikely to vanquish systemic inequality on the scale of gender-based lifetime discrimination. Indeed, recognizing the limitations of statutory and policy tinkering is the first step to developing a whole life approach to women workers that will bring greater economic equality in old age. Professor Lee presented her paper, "Reconceptualizing the Judge as Public Leader." In this piece, she looks at how we understand the work of judges, and addresses two important questions: does the public view the judge as a leader in larger society?, and do judges view themselves as public leaders? As she points out, if we think about how one becomes a viable candidate for a judgeship, successful judicial candidates have demonstrated leadership to some degree. Once on the bench, she argues, these individuals do not stop their leadership work – as judges, they instead engage in a different kind of leadership. To provide some qualitative data regarding judges’ own perceptions about what they do as judges, her project will include an empirical component involving interviews with sitting federal and state judges. Professor Lee asserts in this work that judicial leadership is a significant but under-recognized aspect of a judge’s work, and argues that we ought to reconceptualize the judge as public leader, in terms of how the public views judges as well as how judges themselves view their roles.