Law 261 - Employment Law

Steven J. Kaplan

Steven J. Kaplan

Lecturer in Law
B.A. UC Berkeley, 1974
J.D. UC Berkeley Boalt School of Law, 1978
Course Description:

What this course is. This course surveys American employment law, with an emphasis on California law. We will not take a chronological, cradle to grave (i.e., hiring to firing) approach. Instead, we will address the subject as practicing lawyers typically view it, starting with major definitional questions like “who is an employee,” and what distinguishes employees from independent contractors (and why this matters so much to Uber drivers and others in the gig economy). We will then explore the major themes in employment law: the “at-will” doctrine and the right to terminate employment, the rights of whistleblowers, statutory guarantees for fair pay and decent working conditions, the common law duty of loyalty, employee rights to workplace privacy, and post-employment restrictive covenants such as no-compete agreements and trade secret disclosure limitations. Throughout, we will try to keep an eye on how these doctrines differ between the public and private sectors, and whether enforcement is available to private parties or limited to government agencies.

In studying these issues, we will explore the history of our employment law system, try to identify winners and losers, and consider how general economic developments impact the structure of workplace regulation. We will also discuss how practicing employment lawyers negotiate through the tangled network of employment regulation when devising litigation strategies.

What this course is not. We will not cover – except tangentially – traditional “labor law,” which involves labor unions and collective bargaining, or anti-discrimination law, all of which are covered by other courses.

Course Learning Outcomes:

1. Provide advice on how to prosecute or defend wrongful termination and other disputes between employees and employers

2. Interpret and apply case law, statutes and regulations to determine how a court or arbitrator might resolve a wrongful termination or other disputes between employees and employees

3. Understand and articulate the policies supporting wrongful termination or other employment related claims.

Course Information:
​Faculty Term Course Section ​Schedule ​Units Requisite Satisfies SAW
Steven Kaplan / Scott Ames 20F 261 LEC 1 TR 5:30 PM - 6:25 PM 2.0 No No
Textbook Information:
Textbook for Fall 2020 LEC 1
Willborn et al. Employment Law: Cases and Materials  6th ed.  
ISBN: 9781531005474. Carolina Academic Press. REQUIRED $190.17