Seth Harris

Person's affiliation
Alternate Name
Seth D. Harris

Seth D. Harris is a Distinguished Scholar at Cornell University’s School of Industrial & Labor Relations. He served four and one-half years as the Deputy U.S. Secretary of Labor and six months as Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor and a member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet.  Beginning in January 2007, he chaired Obama for America’s Labor, Employment and Workplace Policy Committee, and later founded the campaign’s Disability Policy Committee. He also advised then-Senator Obama on issues arising in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. In August 2008, he joined the Obama-Biden transition planning committee’s Agency Review Working Group. After Election Day 2008, he oversaw the Obama-Biden transition team’s efforts in the Labor, Education and Transportation departments and 12 other agencies.  From 1997 to 2000, he served as Counselor to Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman. From 1993 to 1997, he served as Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy, and Special Assistant to Secretary Robert of Labor Reich. Prior to re-joining the Labor Department in 2009, he served as a professor of law at New York Law School and director of its Labor and Employment Law programs, as well as a visiting professor of law at Seton Hall Law School. He served as a law clerk to Judge William Canby of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and to Judge Gene Carter of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine. He has published extensively on workplace and employment issues, from both legal and economic perspectives. He earned a B.S. degree with honors from Cornell University in 1983 and a JD cum laude from New York University School of Law in 1990 where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Review of Law and Social Change.

Recently added resources

Journal article

14 Jun 2018

Under existing American labor, employment, and tax laws, in any one work relationship, a worker is either an “employee” or an “independent contractor.” This binary classification of workers, and the high-stakes outcomes it produces, have been challenged by “gig economy,” or “online platform” companies that...

Discussion paper

1 Dec 2015

New and emerging work relationships arising in the “online gig economy” do not fit easily into the existing legal definitions of “employee” and “independent contractor” status. The distinction is important because employees qualify for a range of legally mandated benefits and protections that are not...

Items authored

Items authored 2