"The Dignity of Work" - Profile in the BC Law Review

The Summer 2019 issue of Boston College Law Review features a profile of BC Law alum Jaffe Dickerson in the article "The Dignity of Work (Is That Even a Thing Anymore?)" by Jane Whitehead. Here is an excerpt from the article. Read the complete article here: http://lawmagazine.bc.edu/2019/06/the-dignity-of-work-is-that-even-a-thing-anymore/ 

JAFFE DICKERSON ’75

Veteran lawyer identifies AI and big data as biggest reformers of work life as we know it.

As a law student, Jaffe Dickerson devoured oral historian Studs Terkel’s 1974 book Working, a collection of interviews about the daily experience and meaning of work in people’s lives. Over twenty-eight years at Littler Mendelson PC, the world’s largest labor and employment firm representing management, and more recently as principal of his own Los Angeles consulting company, he has seen radical shifts from the working world captured by Terkel.

The growth of the gig economy, the decline of private sector organized labor, the rising use of arbitration agreements, and an increasing concern with workplace violence have all impacted his practice. Looking forward, he sees Artificial Intelligence and the harnessing of big data as driving major changes far into the future.

Big data enables companies to analyze every aspect of their operations, from tracking workers’ compensation claims to identifying facilities with high levels of sexual harassment allegations. These developments can spur organizations to adopt robust policies on safety and training that benefit employees as well as employers: “They improve the workplace; everybody gets smarter,” says Dickerson.

In the short term, Dickerson will be monitoring moves by state legislatures to require paid parental leave, and watching three SCOTUS cases scheduled to be heard in Fall 2019. These will determine whether civil rights protections in the workplace extend to sexual orientation and gender identity. “This will be a landmark one way or the other,” he predicts.

Photograph by Adam C. Bartlett