Sean Farhang teaches in U.C. Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy. His research interests focus on law and politics, courts, and litigation in the regulatory process, as applied to labor and employment law and policy. He is currently working on a book manuscript examining the sources and consequences of private litigation in the policy enforcement process, stressing Congress' role and motives in enacting (or not enacting) incentives calculated to mobilize this form of regulatory implementation within a separation of powers institutional framework. The project gives extended treatment to employment discrimination law, and its enforcement, in the United States since enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The workplace in general is a domain in which legislators have relied heavily upon workers themselves, in conjunction with plaintiffs' employment attorneys, to enforce legal rights, and this is especially true of rights under anti-discrimination laws. Equal employment opportunity laws are substantially implemented in the United States through the statutory creation of opportunities and incentives for private enforcement litigation by aggrieved employees, while formal administrative powers to implement these laws are relatively weak, and, by and large, quite modestly funded. The project examines two distinct, and closely linked, empirical questions: (1) is this approach to regulating discrimination in the workplace effective in mobilizing private enforcement litigation?; and, (2) is such enforcement litigation effective in driving efforts by employers to strengthen their compliance with antidiscrimination laws.
Recent publications in the area of labor and employment law and policy are:
"The Southern Imposition: Congress and Labor in the New Deal and Fair Deal" (with Ira Katznelson). 2005. Studies in American Political Development 19:1-30. The are examines the role of southern legislators during the late New Deal period, motivated by a desire to retain Jim Crow labor markets, in shaping the contemporary regime of federal labor law.
"Institutional Dynamics on the U.S. Court of Appeals: Minority Representation Under Panel Decision Making" (with Greg Wawro). 2004. Journal of Law Economics & Organization 20:299-30. The article empirically examines the effects of racial and gender diversity among judges on decision-making by appellate panels in civil rights cases.
"The Rights of Employees Subjected to Reductions in Force: A Critical Evaluation" (with Parisis G. Filippatos). 2002. Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal 6:263-327. The article provides a survey and critique of doctrinal developments in the application of employment discrimination law in the context of downsizing.