Katherine V.W. Stone

Katherine V.W. Stone is the Arjay and Frances Miller professor of law, UCLA School of Law, and author of From Widgets to Digits: Employment Regulation for the Changing Workplace.

Recent Articles

Accelerating the Death of Real Jobs

The Tax Act adds insidious new incentives to turn more jobs into casual contract work. 

AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File A driver displaying Lyft and Uber stickers on his front windshield drops off a customer in downtown Los Angeles. This article appears in the Summer 2018 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . For the past three decades, employers have used numerous techniques in their quest to reclassify their workers as independent contractors rather than as employees. Doing so enables them to avoid paying minimum wages, overtime premiums, expense reimbursements, workers’ compensation, health insurance, and numerous other statutory obligations. It also makes it illegal for their workers to form a union. To this end, employers have adjusted job titles, rearranged job duties, removed company logos from delivery vehicles, and even abandoned required company uniforms in order to portray their workers as independent contractors. These types of employer strategies have generated a massive amount of litigation. For example, in the “gig economy,...

Unions in the Precarious Economy

How collective bargaining can help gig and on-demand workers

Marie Kanger Born/Shutterstock
This article appears in the Winter 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Employers are increasingly dispensing with fixed working-time schedules, and turning to on-demand, just-in-time, and “gig” work instead. Some on-demand working time is involuntary: An employer imposes a fluctuating schedule on a worker who would prefer to have regular hours. Involuntary scheduling is becoming increasingly common in the retail, restaurant, hotel, and janitorial sectors, and even in some professional occupations. Other on-demand work is voluntary in the sense that workers choose their own hours or projects, but employers do not provide the benefits of employee status. These workers provide services that are often coordinated by computer platforms such as Uber, TaskRabbit, Mechanical Turk, and Handy. The nominally voluntary nature of their work schedules conceals a disparity of bargaining power, which tends to favor employers. On-demand workers do not fit the...

Will Workers and Consumers Get Their Day in Court?

With a new high court majority, the era of mandatory arbitration could end.

Andrey Burmakin/Shutterstock
Editors Note: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has just issued a regulation that will restore some of the rights denied to consumers, as detailed in this article by Katherine Stone from our Spring 2016 issue. Subscribe here . The death of Antonin Scalia and the prospect of several new appointments to the Supreme Court in the next few years have led progressives to hope for a more worker-friendly Court. One area where much-needed change could come is arbitration law. The pervasive use of mandatory arbitration by employers and retailers in their dealings with their workers and consumers is rapidly destroying innumerable rights that were legislated by Congress over more than a century. Those rights include overtime pay, safe working conditions, safe products, as well as protections against employment discrimination, predatory lending, and overcharges by telecommunications and credit card companies. I have addressed the widespread use and frequent abuse of mandatory arbitration in...

Signing Away Our Rights

Increasingly, corporations trick workers and consumers into giving up their legal rights by forcing arbitration of disputes -- and they are getting help from friendly courts.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
In 2007, Antonio Jackson, an African American worker at the Rent-a-Center store in Washoe County, Nevada, concluded that he had been repeatedly denied promotion to sales manager because of his race. He complained to his store manager, the corporate office, and the human-resource department, all to no avail. Instead he was suspended, then transferred to a less desirable location, and ultimately fired. Jackson sued for race discrimination, only to be told by his employer that he had forfeited his rights to appeal his case when he took the job. Rent-a-Center required all employees to agree to compulsory arbitration. The waiver covered the right to sue not just for civil-rights violations but also for violations of other hard-won employee rights such as a minimum wage, overtime pay, rest breaks, parental leave, and disability rights as well as protection from workplace sex discrimination and sexual harassment. Astonishingly, in 2010, the Supreme Court agreed with Rent-a-Center, holding...