Document Type


Publication Date

January 2019


The traditional discrimination narrative dominates both legal and popular understanding of workplace exploitation of African American workers. This narrative, however, is incomplete as it fails to consider other chronic workplace challenges such as wage theft. The dominant narrative draws upon an anticlassification framework rather than an antisubordination framework. In addition, post-racial legal analyses complicate the dominant narrative’s utility, particularly in a system plagued by structural inequality. Furthermore, both its legal underpinnings and the normative realities of pursuing discrimination claims challenge its efficacy in addressing workplace subordination. Wage theft has largely characterized only the immigrant worker exploitation narrative, despite wage theft’s pervasiveness among all low-wage workers, including African Americans. This Article disrupts the singular discrimination narrative of African American worker exploitation by identifying its limitations and arguing for the inclusion of wage and hour laws as a component of a broad antisubordination framework for worker protections.