Georgetown Law Launches New Workers’ Rights Institute

June 27, 2019

WASHINGTON – Georgetown Law is launching a new Workers’ Rights Institute and has hired the former Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Mark Gaston Pearce, to lead it.

The new institute will focus on innovative legal and policy initiatives to support workers’ rights and on empowering the nation’s most vulnerable workers to access labor protections.

“We’re very excited to welcome Mark Gaston Pearce to Georgetown Law and to launch this new institute dedicated to protecting the rights of U.S. workers across our economy,” said Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor. “Both Mark’s work and the institute embody our motto that ‘Law is but the means, justice is the end.'”

Georgetown Law Professor Jamillah Bowman Williams, whose research focuses on antidiscrimination law and social change, will serve as faculty director of the Workers’ Rights Institute, while Pearce will serve as its executive director and a distinguished lecturer at Georgetown Law.

Over the course of a 40-year labor law career spanning the government, private and non-profit sectors, Pearce spent 23 years at the NLRB, first as an attorney and district trial specialist in its Buffalo, N.Y., regional office and later for eight years in Washington, D.C., as a board member appointed by the president of the United States. From 2011 to January 2017, he served as chair of the five-member Board, which enforces the primary U.S. labor law, the National Labor Relations Act.

“From the gig economy, to the #MeToo movement, to recent Supreme Court decisions, U.S. workers are facing new challenges and pressures that make enforcing labor rights increasingly complicated,” Pearce said. “The Workers’ Rights Institute will help workers and their advocates understand their rights and how to effectively invoke them, while working to advance new policies that protect workers in a changing landscape.”

The new institute will put a special emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable workers, with attention to the intersection of labor rights and issues including race, gender and immigration, Pearce said.

The Workers’ Rights Institute was made possible in part due to the generous support of Georgetown Law alumnus Stephen Bruce (L’79), a D.C.-based employment law attorney and authority on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Georgetown Law is home to 19 centers and institutes that convene legal and policy resources, produce cutting-edge research and educate the next generation of lawyers and leaders across fields including health, the environment, human rights, technology, national security and international economics.