Does the Autonomous Dignified Worker Have the Right To Engage in Civil Disobedience? -Prof Anne Lofaso (WVU)
13 May 2016, 12.30 pm | W3, Hertford College, Oxford University

In a just workplace, one governed by rules, regulations, and laws that reflect the values of autonomy and dignity, workers have a voice in workplace decision making (have become part authors of their working lives) and are treated with dignity.   These autonomous dignified workers are better able to fulfill the needs and wants of themselves and their family precisely because they work for a fair wage in a safe and just workplace.  But few workplaces, even in nearly just societies, perfectly reflect these values.  Given the mismatch between justice and reality, the question becomes:  At what point and under what conditions is the autonomous dignified worker entitled to engage in civil disobedience or uncivil obedience (e.g., work to rule)?  To answer this question, Professor Lofaso deconstructs the normally accepted features of civil disobedience, a public, nonviolent and conscientious yet political act contrary to law, usually done with the aim of bringing about a change in the law or policies of the government”, asking whether these features are necessary.  Professor Lofaso then asks whether there are circumstances under which the autonomous dignified worker is justified in engaging in civil disobedience including whether non-punishment or violence is ever justified.


Anne Lofaso
Anne Marie Lofaso is a Professor of Law at West Virginia University College of Law, where she teaches labor and employment law, jurisprudence, and comparative labor law. She is also currently a Leadership Fellow in the Office of the Associate Vice President for Creative and Scholarly Activity, and a Research Scholar for the NYU Center for Labor and Employment. From 2011 to 2015, she served as Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development at WVU Law.

Dr. Lofaso spent ten years as an attorney with the National Labor Relations Board’s Appellate and Supreme Court Branches. Prior to that, she worked as an associate for Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy’s Business Reorganization Department and clerked for the Hon. James L. Oakes, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She has previously taught at American University Washington College of Law and at Oxford University.

Dr. Lofaso is a prolific writer in the area of labor law and coal miner safety and has been published in numerous law reviews including the Harvard Law and Policy Review. Her textbook, Modern Labor Law in the Private and Public Sectors (Lexis Publishing with Harris, Slater, and Gregory) and her textbook, Mastering Labor Law (Carolina Academic Press with Secunda, Hirsch, and Slater), are the among the first U.S. labor-law-education books to treat both private and public-sector labor law.

Dr. Lofaso earned her A.B. from Harvard, magna cum laude, a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied labor law under the late Clyde Summers, and a D.Phil from Oxford, where she read law as a Fulbright Scholar. She is a four-time winner of her law school’s outstanding faculty scholarship award, 2010 WVU Law professor of the year, 2012-13 WVU Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching, and 2013-14 Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award.

In 2016, Dr. Lofaso will serve as the Keeley Visiting Fellow, Wadham College, University of Oxford, where she will be working on a labor law monograph, The Once and Future Worker.