Overcoming Collective Action Problems: Enforcement of Worker Rights

In a period of new employment laws, it is important to determine how those laws are enforced, why enforcement of those laws is sometimes limited and how enforcement can be improved. This Note discusses the ways in which the theory of collective action limits enforcement of three employee rights statutes: the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. Enforcement mechanisms such as class action lawsuits, administrative agencies, employee participation groups, and labor unions represent potential methods of overcoming collective action problems. Each method has its benefits, and the three statutes must be reformed to increase the availability of all four methods. Ultimately, however, employee participation groups represent the best means for improving enforcement.