Health promotion programs have become increasingly common in U.S. workplaces, yet little research has examined the unintended and potentially negative consequences of these initiatives. Overweight and obese employees face widespread prejudice and pervasive discrimination in employment settings, and this study investigates whether workplace health promotion may lead to more negative outcomes for these workers. Using an experimental design, the author finds that overweight and obese employees are rated more negatively and receive lower hiring recommendations when evaluated for companies with health promotion programs. These findings suggest that health promotion increases the salience and perceived legitimacy of negative fat stereotypes that facilitate weight-based discrimination.
This article examines employer choice in relation to job quality (JQ). Acknowledging the important role of market, institutional, and technological constraints, the authors highlight the role of employer agency in shaping JQ by reporting on an employer-led service redesign initiative in hospital pharmacy services in Scotland. This redesign initiative aimed at upskilling employees and redirecting their work effort toward high value-added, patient-facing work using robotics implementation. The article provides a critical assessment of the success of the initiative in enhancing JQ and explores a range of factors constraining and shaping employers’ JQ choices.
Drawing from a unique dataset based on 146 in-depth, semistructured interviews with a nonrandom sample of ethnoracially and class diverse workers at one large public sector employer, the authors link job contacts’ patterns of assistance to three distinct cultural logics of job-matching assistance—defensive individualism, particularism, and matchmaking—which differed along three dimensions: (a) the primary criteria upon which help was contingent, (b) the perceived risk faced, and (c) the screening practices contacts used. These findings contribute to a small but growing body of research highlighting the cultural logics that inform where, how much, and to whom job information and influence flows.
This study builds on recent work investigating the process of migration channeling between analogous sectors of the Mexican and U.S. labor markets. In this study, the authors take up the question of whether channeling between Mexico and the United States promotes immigrants’ economic integration. Drawing on previous research on channeling, and using insights from human capital theory, the authors test the hypothesis that immigrants who are able to use their industry-specific knowledge, skills, and abilities acquired in Mexico within the same industry in the United States achieve higher levels of economic integration. Using a sample of Mexican immigrants from the New Immigrant Survey, we find that industrially channeled immigrants experience a wage premium of over $5,000, on average, in the United States. Our study concludes with a discussion of what industrial channeling means for Mexican immigrants’ broader integration into U.S. society.
In this study, the authors identify and analyze a distinct and understudied source of gender inequality: gender differences in violations of wage-related workplace laws. The authors find that women have significantly higher rates of minimum wage and overtime violations than men and also lose more of their earnings to wage theft than men. In the case of minimum wage violations, the authors also find that nativity and immigration status strongly mediate this gender difference. Multivariate analysis suggests that demand-side characteristics—occupation and measures of nonstandard work and informality—account for more of the gender difference in minimum wage violations than do worker characteristics.
Research on emotional labor has shown that workers who are required to feign emotions are more likely to suffer ill effects than those who are able to deep act their emotions. The authors argue that what may stand between surface and deep acting is workers’ ability to claim the kind of socially valued role that makes their enactment of emotional display rules seem consistent with that role. The authors draw on observations and interviews with workers in the debt settlement industry to show that men who were agents were able to claim that they were educating clients rather than selling to them. This made it possible for them to avoid feeling that they were taking advantage of customers who might have been better off without the service they sold them. Men were able to help clients in a way that did not conflict with their role as salespeople. Women agents, by contrast, were not able to style themselves educators. Instead, clients and employers expected them to adopt a therapeutic role with their clients. However, this role conflicted sharply with the expectation that agents be effective salespeople and forced women agents to feign feelings of care and optimism. Clients, coworkers, and employers, the authors show, shaped workers’ freedom to define their emotional labor in satisfying ways.
Youth unemployment reduces the capacity to achieve diverse markers of adulthood, potentially undermining the young adult’s sense of confidence and independence. While parents often come to the aid of their unemployed young adult children, such support may also have negative psychological repercussions. Applying a hierarchical modeling strategy to longitudinal data from the Youth Development Study, the authors find that both unemployment and parental financial support have negative consequences for youth’s self-efficacy. These common experiences may thus diminish youth’s personal psychological resources as they make the increasingly lengthy and precarious transition to adulthood.
Learning at work is usually seen as beneficial for the professional and personal lives of workers. In this article, we propose that learning’s relationship to worker well-being may be more complicated. We posit that learning can become a burden (instead of always being a benefit) in occupations that are learning intensive and tightly associated with the postindustrial economy. Results of analyses using data from the General Social Survey suggest that learning lessens work–family conflict by increasing job satisfaction, but at the same time, learning makes work–family conflict worse by leading people to work longer hours and exacerbating work-related stress.
Whether the public sector continues to offer African Americans an upwardly mobile "occupational niche" is unclear, especially in the face of contemporary reforms that run counter to workplace protections. In this article, and drawing on overtime data from Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we explore this question with a specific focus on the upward mobility of men into white-collar occupations. Findings suggest that the reform period of 2005–2010, characterized by increased employer discretion and an application of a "business model" to public sector work, undermined African American relative to White promotion prospects. What was once greater racial parity in the incidence, determinants, and timing of upward mobility during the pre-reform period (1985–1990) eroded during the reform period (2005–2010). Promotion-centered inequalities in the private sector, in contrast, while high, were more or less constant across the same time period. We conclude by discussing escalating public sector racial disadvantages, the processes undergirding them, and their implications for the likely contraction of the African American middle class.
Retail offers notoriously bad jobs that exist at the nexus of work and consumption. Previous brand-based retail studies assert that youth workers see the stores’ coolness and the employee discount as compensating for the low pay and variable schedules. The authors use interviews with 55 former and current young clothing retail workers to examine how they experience retail work in relation to their consumer identities. The authors find that while some workers identify with the brand, all workers criticize the poor working conditions. Workers draw on their consumer identities to understand what good service entails and sometimes to resist managers’ orders that they interpret as bad deals for shoppers. This article concludes that youth retail workers’ consumer identities do not compensate for the low pay and poor work conditions but instead help them navigate the interactive aspects of service work and find fulfillment on the job.
How do contract professionals seek to control their working time? Here, the authors identify boundary work strategies through which contractors—both shift workers and project workers—maintain distinctions from employees with standard jobs. Drawing from interviews with contractors in three occupations, the authors identify sources of leverage for control of working time in payment systems, outsider status, and occupational networks. These structures allow contractors to reinforce boundaries between contract and standard employment and resist the overtime and overwork associated with standard jobs. Boundary work between contingent workers and employees may therefore generate inequalities of control, with implications for workers, managers, and organizations.
Over the past several decades, there has been a remarkable surge of economic justice organizing across the country. The goal of this article is to examine these efforts and provide a framework for understanding their potential, their limitations, and their future. In what follows, the authors first describe five distinct organizing movements focused on low-wage work that have flourished in recent years. The authors then develop a framework for thinking about these movements. They distinguish among these efforts along the two dimensions of goals and strategies, assessing relative strengths and weaknesses. With these distinctions in hand, they then take up the question of the scalability of the movements and analyze the challenges they face in terms of growth strategy, sustainability, constituencies, and cohesion. This overall framework yields a picture of significant promise in America’s economic justice organizing—but one that will take equally significant resources and political power to realize.
Poor-quality jobs have significant costs for individual workers, their families, and the wider community. Drawing mainly on the Australian case, the authors’ focus is on the structural challenges to work–life reconciliation and the multiple-level interventions necessary to create quality employment that supports workers to reconcile work and family over the life course. The authors argue that interventions are necessary in three domains: at the macrosocial and economic level, in the regulatory domain, and in the workplace domain. The nature and success of these interventions is also critical to gender equality and to responding to the changing gender and care composition of the workforce across OECD countries.
This article presents a counterpoint to a structuralist view of job quality and argues that it can be understood as an outcome of contested power dynamics of interest representation within institutions of labor market regulation. The article presents studies of unions in two sectors in the UK (health care and industrial cleaning) where bad jobs are common. It examines how unions have sought to regulate job quality through representing new interests within existing institutions and by extending institutional regulation to new groups. The evidence highlights the contested nature of these decisions and the importance of collective actors in exercising agency in seeking to improve job quality. The evidence shows how new interests can be promoted within institutions to (seek to) improve job quality, despite internal resistance.
Drawing upon data from more than 5,000 dyads, the authors examine how the strength of employees’ intraorganizational ties and the social resources of their network members affect influence-conferring support, task support, and social support. The authors hypothesize that the effects of tie strength and social resources will vary with type of network support and theorize how three mechanisms—trust, risk, and redundancy—explain the differential effects of tie strength and social resources on intraorganizational support. Their findings highlight the variable effects of tie strength and social resources and illustrate the unique ways in which strong ties operate within work organizations.
Job pressure is associated with increased role-blurring activities. Does higher status attenuate or exacerbate that association? Using data from a national sample of workers, the authors' study discovers that higher status functions as a moderator in what they call the pressure-status nexus. Job pressure is associated more strongly with role blurring among the well educated, professionals, managers, and high earners. Also, job pressure is associated most strongly with role blurring among higher status men. The authors' articulation of the pressure-status nexus extends the stress of higher status perspective, demonstrating that higher statuses compound the ways that job pressure is linked with activities that blur the work–family boundary.
This study identifies factors associated with flexible work arrangement (FWA) use in the context of the "Supervisor-Promoted Flexibility" program implemented by an employer in the financial activities supersector. This change initiative involved supervisor-initiated discussions that explored prospects for supervisee FWA use. Discussions increased the odds of FWA use expansion, but changes occurred at different rates among work units. Managers’ gender, age, and attitudes toward FWAs corresponded with changes observed. When managers believed that supervisee FWA use reflected favorably on prospects for their own careers, they were more likely to expand use over time.
Although well theorized at the individual level, previous research has neglected the role of national context in shaping overall levels of nonwork–work and work–nonwork interference. This study fills this gap by examining how a national context of gender empowerment affects the likelihood of experiencing nonwork–work and work–nonwork interference at the individual and national levels. Controlling for individual-level differences in the distribution of job demands and resources, results from our multilevel models indicate that women’s empowerment has significant net gender and parenthood effects on nonwork–work interference. By contrast, gender empowerment equally structures work–nonwork interference for these groups. Our results highlight the need to investigate interference bidirectionally and in a multilevel context.
Using the 2008 National Study of Employers to analyze employers’ compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), we show that prior studies have overestimated compliance due to the treatment of missing values and incomplete definitions of the FMLA. Using partial identification methods, we estimate that FMLA compliance among firms with 50 or more employees in the private sector is at least 54.3% and at most 76.8%. We also look at organizational characteristics that predict compliance, noncompliance, and nonresponse. This analysis suggests that firms with missing data are more similar to noncompliant than compliant firms and that nonresponse may indicate organizational defiance of policy.
Debates over America’s heavy reliance on employer-provided private pensions have understated the profound role organized labor played after World War II. Archival evidence from prominent unions and business associations suggests that the shift in organized labor’s strategy after the New Deal toward electoral activity helps explain critical interventions by Northern Democrats into the system of private pensioning in the postwar period that laid the foundation for America’s old-age security system. Such a strategy was insufficient, however, to expand social security. This article offers a political mediation account of electoral activity as a source of labor influence on social policy that draws on political institutionalist and class power theories.
Little is known about how work schedules affect social connectedness beyond family relationships. The authors use detailed time diary data from 12,140 respondents in the 2008 through 2010 American Time Use Surveys to examine how work schedules affect six forms of community involvement. Results show that night and evening shift work reduces community involvement, but only on weekdays. Daytime shifts reduce community involvement when they are very short, when they involve working from 8 to 5 instead of from 7 to 4, and when they are on weekends. These results call into question tacit assumptions about how shift work affects workers’ social lives.
This study investigates whether mothers’ education moderates the link between their work and parenting quality, differentiating among aspects of work that may negatively and positively influence it. Data came from the National Institute of Child Health and Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (n = 1,345). The results revealed that part-time and higher status work were associated with increases in parenting quality for less educated women, but not for more educated women, thereby narrowing socioeconomic differences in the parenting behaviors linked to children’s mobility. Yet nonemployment among less educated women was associated with the lowest levels of parenting quality, pointing to a key source of inequality in the lives of children.