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The Excuse Factory

The Excuse Factory: How Employment Law Is Paralyzing the American Workplace (Free Press, 1997) was the first popular book to take a broad critical look at the revolution in American workplace law that had taken place over the previous generation.

Here's an annotated table of contents.

Review highlights are here. Highlight of the publicity: a three-page profile in People (August 11, 1997). The book won a Sir Antony Fisher Memorial Award, bestowed annually by the Atlas Foundation, and was a main selection at both Laissez-Faire Books and the Conservative Book Club.

Online excerpts from the book or pieces based on it include my Reason magazine cover story on how employers never really succeed in complying with today's employment law; the Cato Policy Report cover story based on a speech I gave before the Cato Institute; a USA Today opinion piece on the surprising effects of age-bias law in discouraging hiring of older workers; and a Washington Monthly excerpt telling the story of how alcoholism became a legally protected category in the workplace like race or religion. (My article on the collision course between the Americans with Disabilities Act and workplace safety is no longer online at the Detroit News.) I've also published articles on the unintended effects of the law in bestowing rights on half-blind pilots, addicted doctors who swipe their patients' narcotics, mentally ill grade-school teachers, aspiring golfers who want the game's rules changed on their behalf, and would-be lawyers with learning disability who demand extra time on the bar exam.

Broadcast and speaking appearances. My speaking tour took me from Harvard to San Diego, Seton Hall to Oklahoma City -- at least two dozen campuses so far and more than fifty professional gatherings, including the annual conventions of both the American Bar Association and Association of Trial Lawyers of America (really).

Buy The Excuse Factory


For further reading:

My Reason column for December 1998 pulled together some of the more amusing employment-law stories there wasn't room to include in the book ("Dial 'O' for Outrage"), while my roundup review of self-help books for disgruntled employees, a genre I got to know quite well while researching The Excuse Factory, appeared in the Baltimore Sun.

For more on employment-law themes, consult this site's directory of online writings by topic where you will find such categories as discrimination law. In the magazine Reason, where I wrote a monthly column for several years beginning in 1997, are columns on the federal government's baffling crusade against "accent discrimination", its abortive attempt to impose safety rules on home offices, its hints that criminal records may in some circumstances count as a protected category against discrimination, and its effort to unleash entrapment-informers -- sorry, the preferred term is "testers"
-- to generate complaints against hapless employers by posing falsely as job applicants.

My websites Point Of Law and Overlawyered both carry a steady stream of commentary on employment law issues. Point of Law has a page dedicated to that topic, while Overlawyered has pages devoted to employment law generally, harassment law and disabled-rights law.