Many cities across the country are enacting strong labor standards, such as minimum wages of $15 an hour or more, paid leave, and scheduling ordinances. But for many small businesses, including ones owned by immigrants and Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color, these standards can be challenging to adopt. And most cities lack the ability to support them, as cities’ small business functions are not built with the unique needs of immigrant business owners and business owners of color in mind.
What would it take for small businesses owned by immigrants and people of color to improve their labor standards? The workplace justice lab at Rutgers University and the City of Minneapolis’s Labor Standards Enforcement Division aim to tackle that question in a project that will test whether providing ongoing support for payroll, human resources, or other business operations systems to businesses in Minneapolis owned by immigrants and people of color is more effective than standard outreach and education. The project team will also evaluate whether compliance approaches focused more on capacity building and economic development—rather than punitive measures—could strengthen these business owners’ ability to provide minimum wages, paid leave, and fair scheduling practices to their employees.