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ABOUT

*On the legal academic job market 2022-23*

I am a Doctoral Fellow at the Law, Economics, and Politics Center at UC Berkeley Law, and a PhD candidate in UCB's Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program. 


I research and write about work as an institution, and its relationship with law.  I conceptualize work law as a site where critical choices are made about the relationship between America’s economic commitments and its democratic ideals.  I consistently return to the question of what it would mean to use law to affect a meaningful decommodification of human labor. 


Empirically, I use diverse methodologies to trace the transmission and reinterpretation of legal and economic ideas across institutional fields over time.  These methods include surveys, survey experiments, interviews, participant observation, content analysis, and archival work. 


My recent scholarship has been published or is forthcoming in the Yale Law Journal, the Yale Law Journal Forum, and the Emory Law Journal, among others.  You can find some of my shorter pieces on the Law and Political Economy blog (here and here).  

Before my return to academia, I represented labor unions and workers at the AFL-CIO, Altshuler Berzon LLP, and the California Teachers Association. 


After law school, I clerked for Judge Theodore McKee on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and Judge Kimba Wood on the Southern District of New York.  I received my JD, magna cum laude and Order of the Coif, from NYU School of Law, where I was also a Root-Tilden-Kern scholar.

For more information about my work, please keep scrolling, or email me at dsreddy@berkeley.edu.  A current copy of my CV is available here.  A copy of my Research Agenda is available here.

 
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SCHOLARSHIP

Research and Articles

 

AFTER THE LAW OF APOLITICAL ECONOMY,
132 YALE L. J. _ (FORTHCOMING 2023).

Faced with a decimated membership base and a legitimacy crisis, labor movement organizations over the past decade have sought to re-assert the normative stakes of unionization.  They have used what sociologists call “collective action frames” to emphasize the inherently intersectional role of labor unions in an unequal economy.  Notwithstanding some successes, I argue that the American conversation about unions remains constrained by a stubborn legacy.  During the New Deal, unions were constitutionally categorized as engaging in economic activity, rather than making and effectuating rights-based claims about inequality at work.  I refer to this jurisprudential move, and its long-standing legal repercussions, as “the law of apolitical economy.”  This Article uses sociological theory on social movements, along with original empirical work, to trace the trajectory of the law of apolitical economy; to argue that it is a category error; and to show how it still matters for how Americans think about labor unions today.  I argue that the case for unionism must include a claim of fundamental workers’ rights, for it to be lasting.  In turn, I argue that leading scholarly critiques of “rights” may be less about rights, in and of themselves, and more about what rights were specifically constructed over the twentieth century to exclude.

“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN ILLEGAL STRIKE”: RECONCEPTUALIZING THE STRIKE IN LAW AND POLITICAL ECONOMY, 130 YALE L.J.F. 421 (2021).

In theorizing the lack of strikes in recent decades, legal scholars have focused on the rules that make striking difficult, even counterproductive, for workers. But while American law on striking is ambivalent at best, the impact of legal restrictions on labor protest has always been mediated by broader political economy. One hundred years ago, as the critique to Gilded Age inequality raged, strikes by emergent labor unions made the stakes of the “labor question” apparent. These strikes were subject to legal repression, and in the shorter term, were often seen as failures. In the longer term, though, they laid the foundation for the New Deal order and its modest compression of economic inequality.

That order—built in part on a depoliticization of unions’ role in the workplace—proved unable to withstand the neoliberal turn. Yet, in today’s new Gilded Age, workers are tentatively rediscovering the power of the strike, bad law notwithstanding. Labor activists have long proclaimed, “There is no such thing as an illegal strike, only an unsuccessful one,” inviting the question of how strikes can be successful today, in spite of an inhospitable legal regime. Strikes are not just “economic weapons”; they are political protest. And the success of strikes today should be measured not only by their immediate economic wins, but also by their longer-term sociopolitical ones—to the extent they help upend the dominant regulatory and discursive impulses of recent decades, and like the strikes of the Progressive Era, legitimate a new vision of law and political economy.

Available at: https://www.yalelawjournal.org/forum/there-is-no-such-thing-as-an-illegal-strike-reconceptualizing-the-strike-in-law-and-political-economy

PROTECTION BY LAW, REPRESSION BY LAW: BRINGING LABOR BACK INTO THE STUDY OF LAW AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, 70 EMORY L. J. 63 (2020) (WITH CATHERINE L. FISK).

Within the rich, interdisciplinary literature on law and social movements, scholarly attention has often focused on how the civil rights movement, and other movements that share a resemblance to it, have mobilized law; less attention has been paid to the labor movement’s experience of being regulated by law. In this Article, we ask how refocusing on the experiences of labor unions regulated by law complicates understandings of how movements shape law, and law shapes movements, in turn. To explore the relationship between labor and law at a critical historical juncture, we delve into the largely unexplored legal history of the first major damages judgment against a labor union under the Taft-Hartley amendments to the National Labor Relations Act. Decided as the New Deal era gave way to the “rights revolution” of the 1950s and 1960s, this case dramatizes the costs of the labor movement’s distinct regulatory framework. Law helped institutionalize unions—to give them autonomy, power, and legitimacy. At the same time, it subjected them to an increasingly restrictive regulatory scheme that made it harder for them to act—or to be seen—as a social movement. Refocusing on labor re-centers the role of law in constructing the jurisprudential boundaries which channeled social movement activity throughout the twentieth century. As social movements today challenge these boundaries in order to assert more intersectional grievances, interrogating taken-for-granted notions about law and movements could not be more important.

Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.emory.edu/elj/vol70/iss1/2

LAW FIRMS AS DEFENDANTS: FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES DISCRIMINATION IN LEGAL WORKPLACES, 34 PEPPERDINE L.R. 393 (2007) (WITH JOAN C. WILLIAMS, STEPHANIE BORNSTEIN & BETSY A. WILLIAMS).

Our research indicates that family responsibilities discrimination has become a risk management issue for all employers. For a variety of reasons discussed in this article--most notably, the structure and culture of law firms that has been based on traditionally masculine norms and life patterns--legal employers may be particularly susceptible to FRD liability.

 

CONTACT

Diana Reddy
Jurisprudence and Social Policy
University of California, Berkeley
School of Law
2240 Piedmont Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94720-2150