The state of worker protections in the United States: Unregulated work in New York City


  • This article is an excerpt of Bernhardt, McGrath and DeFilippis (2007). We are grateful for the generous support of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

  • Responsibility for opinions expressed in signed articles rests solely with their authors and publication does not constitute an endorsement by the ILO.


Using original data gathered in 2003–06, the authors examine the prevalence and types of non-compliance with labour law in New York City. Workplace violations — or “unregulated work”— are widespread across a range of low-wage industries and have been driven by a mix of economic factors as well as public policy. The solution, the authors argue, is to strengthen law enforcement and provide for the new types of employment relationship that have resulted from changes in the organization of work and production.