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At some point in their lives, most people who live in the United States labor for pay. By becoming "work force members," they are immediately entitled and obligated to participate in government programs, such as Social Security, that are designed to protect workers' health and financial security. In certain sectors of the work force, however, employer (and employee) noncompliance with these laws is rampant. The problem is particularly severe for private household workers migrant farmworkers, and undocumented workers generally. Officially acknowledged nonenforcement is widespread as well, leaving employers free to disregard explicit legal obligations with little fear of reprisal.

In this article, I will address the ways in which household workers have systematically been denied employment rights and have suffered economic and physical exploitation at the hands of private employers. I explore the set of circumstances which allows people simultaneously to have and not have a right. The situation of these workers illustrates the striking gap between legal fiction and contemporary social reality.


Labor and Employment Law | Law