Catherine Fisk teaches Employment Law, Labor Law, Civil Procedure, and Understanding the U.S. Legal Profession. She is a Faculty Director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Work and the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology.
Professor Fisk is the author of several books. Her first, Working Knowledge: Employee Innovation and the Rise of Corporate Intellectual Property, 1800-1930 (University of North Carolina Press, 2009, 2014), won prizes from the American Society for Legal History and the American Historical Association. In her next book, Writing for Hire: Unions, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue (Harvard University Press, 2016), Fisk explored the law and norms of credit and compensation for writing, contrasting the writer-protective rules negotiated by unionized writers in film and TV with far less protective norms developed in non-union advertising. Fisk is the co-author of four books for use in law school and legal studies classes: Labor Law in the Contemporary Workplace (3d ed. 2019), The Legal Profession: Ethics in Contemporary Practice (2d ed. 2019), What Lawyers Do: Understanding the Many American Legal Practices (2020), and Labor Law Stories (2005). Her next book will examine the professional identities of lawyers who represented activist, multi-racial, and politically progressive unions in the mid-twentieth century.
Fisk has published over 100 articles and essays in leading publications including, most recently, California Law Review, Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Harvard Law Review Forum, Yale Law Journal Forum, Law and History Review, Ohio State Law Journal, and Indiana Law Journal. Her recent articles address the intersection of antitrust, labor, and copyright law in structuring labor relations in American theatre, the crafting of New Deal era labor and social welfare legislation, social movement lawyering, free speech rights of worker organizations and in the workplace, new forms of labor organizing, and police unions.
Professor Fisk’s current public service and pro bono legal work includes filing amicus briefs on various labor and employment law issues, service on the Advisory Board of the Berkeley Labor Center, the board of directors of the American Society for Legal History and the boards of directors of two Bay Area workers’ rights nonprofits, and occasional service as an arbitrator under collectively bargained labor contracts. Before joining the Berkeley faculty in 2017, she was on the law faculties at UC Irvine, Duke University, the University of Southern California, and Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. Prior to entering academia, Fisk practiced civil appellate litigation and union-side labor law in Washington, D.C., and clerked on the Ninth Circuit. Fisk received an AB summa cum laude from Princeton University and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was elected to Order of the Coif.
AB, Princeton University (1983)
JD, University of California, Berkeley (1986)
LLM, University of Wisconsin (1995)
Catherine Fisk is teaching the following courses in Spring 2023:
211.11 sec. 001 - Understanding the U.S. Legal Profession
227 sec. 001 - Labor Law
227.32 sec. 001 - Current Issues in Work Law
Courses During Other Semesters
|Semester||Course Num||Course Title||Teaching Evaluations||Fall 2022||284.1 sec. 001||Employment Discrimination||View Teaching Evaluation||Spring 2022||206C sec. 001||Note Publishing Workshop||View Teaching Evaluation||211.11 sec. 001||Understanding the U.S. Legal Profession||View Teaching Evaluation||227.21 sec. 001||Employment Law||View Teaching Evaluation|
‘No Reward for Loyalty’: Gig Companies Winning Fight to Classify Drivers as Independent
“No question there are a lot of minimum labor law standards in California, and I understand why employers find them onerous to comply with, not to mention expensive,” said UC Berkeley law professor Catherine Fisk, who wrote a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of a group of California labor and employment law professors opposed to Prop. 22. She added that she’s “disappointed” by the appeals court decision.
Independent Contractor Rulings Sharpen Issue of Who Is and Isn’t
Professor of Law Catherine Fisk discusses California’s Prop. 22 and Assembly Bill No. 5.
Opinion: Reopening Uber’s challenge to California labor law is just the beginning
“For decades, conservatives have preached judicial restraint and deference to the political process, write Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and Professor Catherine Fisk of Berkeley Law. “But that doesn’t seem to apply when they don’t like government regulation of business. They will surely use the 9th Circuit’s new decision and its fallacious reasoning to challenge a myriad of essential regulations needed to protect workers and consumers.”
Viking River Cruises Gets Another Bite at California PAGA Apple
Catherine Fisk, University of California, Berkeley Law professor, and Christina Chung, UC Berkeley Center for Law and Work executive director, argue that the US Supreme Court “simply misunderstood California law on PAGA standing; California law is clear that a plaintiff may litigate a PAGA action as a representative of the state for the labor law violations suffered by others regardless of whether the plaintiff must arbitrate her own claim.”
Court upholds California Prop. 22 in big win for gig firms like Lyft and Uber
Berkeley Law professor, Catherine Fisk comments on the decision of the California Court of appeals to uphold Prop. 22.
Worker Noncompete Ban Proposal Promises FTC Authority Fight
The Supreme Court’s focus on the major questions doctrine could make the FTC’s clear power to issue the rule irrelevant, said Catherine Fisk, a workplace law professor at the University of California-Berkeley.
Why music supervisors are clashing with Netflix
“There are lots of cases involving workers who work somewhat autonomously who have nevertheless successfully unionized,” said Catherine Fisk, professor of labor law at UC Berkeley School of Law.
Lawyer Suing Twitter Over Layoffs Says Musk Trying to Comply (1)
University of California at Berkeley law professor Catherine Fisk discusses how the WARN Act may apply to the layoffs at Twitter.
California Moves To Give Fast Food Workers More Power, Heeding ‘Fight For $15’
“This legislation will show that you can actually do this without causing the economy to collapse,” said Catherine Fisk, faculty director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Work and the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. “And so I think there’s nowhere to go but up from here.”
Flight Attendant Case Tests If State Labor Laws Trump FAA Rules
One reason the case is so important to airlines is that they are likely to get a more pro-business outcome in the Supreme Court than with California’s lawmakers, Professor Catherine Fisk says. “The usual way of dealing with a policy disagreement is to get the legislature to enact a law,” she says. “What’s significant here is apparently the airlines couldn’t persuade the California legislature.”
Drivers Accuse Uber and Lyft of Price-Fixing, Antitrust Violations in Attempt at Class-Action Lawsuit
Professor Catherine Fisk says “illustrates how the companies get all the benefits of wage and price control that they would have if drivers were employees while none of the responsibility.”
Starbucks Threatens Trans Benefits in Anti-Union Push, Staff Say
Companies often push or ignore the boundaries about what they can tell staff, since the National Labor Relations Board has no power to punish them, Professor Catherine Fisk says. “They’ll spend a few million dollars litigating it, but that’s less than the millions more they presumably think they’ll have to pay if they were unionized.”
Escalation of the Supreme Court’s leak probe puts clerks in a ‘no-win’ situation
Professor Catherine Fisk discusses the Supreme Court’s efforts to force clerks to hand over their phone records and suggests the clerks respond as a group and decline to act until they consult with counsel
‘Trust isn’t built by just one policy.’ Abortion care rights in the workplace are complicated
Professor Catherine Fisk, Faculty Director of the Center for Law & Work, addresses employee privacy concerns as a growing number of tech companies extend abortion-related travel benefits
Turn the Page: A Prolific Year of Powerful and Pathbreaking Books from Berkeley Law’s Faculty
A recent celebration of 39 works that probe compelling issues across and beyond the legal landscape highlights the faculty’s far-reaching expertise.
Who is responsible when a gig worker, such as an Uber driver, is killed on the job?
Professor Catherine Fisk says more needs to be done to protect gig workers and their families
Ask Help Desk: What happens if you refuse to go back to the office?
Professor Catherine Fisk explores the leverage workers and employers have when it comes to a return-to-the-office policy
When Gig Workers Are Murdered, Their Families Foot the Bill
Professor Catherine Fisk explains the lack of coverage gig workers and their families have when people are killed on the job and the cost-saving measures companies like Uber take to exclude their drivers from workers’ compensation
Staten Island Amazon workers chart their own path in union drive
Professor Catherine Fisk, Faculty Director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Work and the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, compares labor organizers at Amazon’s Staten Island facility to General Motors organizers in 1944
Inside ‘contract hell’: Esports players say predatory contracts run ‘rampant’
Professor Catherine Fisk says she sees esports as currently living through what Major League Baseball experienced 80 years ago with “exploitative contracts”