Minnesota Law

Fall 2022
Faculty Focus

Leaders in Labor & Employment Law

Two new scholars reaffirm Minnesota Law’s reputation as powerhouse in key legal area

Professor Mathew Bodie (left) & Professor Charlotte Garden (right)

Professors Charlotte Garden and Mathew Bodie joined the faculty this fall, bringing significant expertise in labor and employment law, an area in which Minnesota Law has long been recognized as a powerhouse. 

“Minnesota Law hit a home run in hiring these two,” says Professor Stephen Befort ’74, who retired last spring after a nearly 40-year career at the University. “To hire two people the caliber of Charlotte and Matt speaks volumes about this school’s commitment to labor and employment law.” 

Befort, along with Professor Emerita Laura Cooper, helped establish the Law School’s national reputation for excellence in labor and employment law, developing a concentration, producing incisive scholarship and legal writing, and bringing public-sector experience to the classroom. 

“With both Laura and I stepping down, we needed to ensure professors who could teach both labor and employment to keep Minnesota Law at the forefront,” says Befort. “We got that in Charlotte and Matt. They have stellar credentials, excellent reputations as classroom teachers, and connections across the country that will benefit our students.” 

Labor and the Constitution 

Garden, Julius E. Davis Professor of Law, comes to Minnesota Law from Seattle University School of Law, where she was a professor of law and co-associate dean for research. Her scholarship focuses on the intersection of work/labor/technology and the U.S. Constitution. 

“I was drawn to Minnesota Law because both students and faculty saw the importance of having labor and employment as a key part of the curriculum,” says Garden. “The school has an excellent reputation, one of the top bar passage rates in the country, and brilliant faculty, many of whom work in areas that are related to my field.” She was especially excited about teaching fall-semester 1Ls for the first time. “My colleagues tell me that these first-year students are absolutely full of enthusiasm, and I’m excited to be one of the first faculty to welcome them to the profession.” 

"My colleagues tell me that these first-year students are absolutely full of enthusiasm, and I’m excited to be one of the first faculty to welcome them to the profession."
Professor Charlotte Garden

Garden is a co-author of two leading labor and employment law casebooks: Modern Labor Law in the Private and Public Sectors (Carolina Academic Press) and Employment Law Cases and Materials (Foundation Press). Her articles have appeared in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Emory Law Journal, Boston University Law Review, George Washington Law Review, Fordham Law Review, William & Mary Law Review, and the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, among others. She has shared legal analysis regularly with the New York Times, NPR, Bloomberg, the Washington Post, The Nation, and Politico. A graduate of NYU School of Law and McGill University, she has collaborated with Bodie on several amicus briefs and as co-editors of Jotwell, a labor and employment blog where legal academics can identify, celebrate, and discuss the best new scholarship relevant to the law. 

Garden says Minnesota is a great place to do labor work because of the history of the labor movement in the state. “I am most interested in how law helps or stymies workers in exercising their power collectively,” she says. She notes that union density has been falling since the 1950s. “The fact that union density is under 10 percent should concern all of us. Unions are core to a strong democracy.” But, she says, with recent initiatives such as Red for Ed and unionizing efforts at companies such as Amazon and Starbucks, there are indications of a rebirth of unionization. 

 “Charlotte is a dynamo,” says Befort. “I’ve seen her work in a labor law academic group and on amicus briefs. She gets students involved. Women are underrepresented in labor law but people like Charlotte are changing that.” 

Governance and the Role of Information

Bodie, Robins Kaplan Professor of Law, previously served as Callis Family Professor of Law and co- director of the William C. Wefel Center for Employment Law at Saint Louis University School of Law. His scholarship focuses on the role of information, control, and governance within the corporation and the workplace. He got his start in labor and employment law as a field attorney in the New York office of the National Labor Relations Board, investigating and litigating unfair labor practice charges, including a case involving the National Hockey League. 

“There is a great tradition of labor and employment at Minnesota Law,” says Bodie. “I look forward to building upon the school’s national position as a leader in the field. It’s really exciting to work with Charlotte and with the terrific business law faculty I’ve gotten to know well over the course of my career.” He will serve as faculty chair of the Labor and Employment Law Concentration. 

Bodie’s book, Reconstructing the Corporation: From Shareholder Primacy to Shared Governance, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2021 and argues for employees to be more involved in corporate governance. He also served as one of the reporters for the American Law Institute’s Restatement of Employment Law, acting as the primary reporter for the chapter on workplace privacy and autonomy. 

His most recent article focused on the regulation of worker data through legal regimes relating to employment law, privacy law, and intellectual property law. “Employers are collecting more and more information about their employees, over a wider spectrum of life activities,” he says. “We have to adapt the law to give workers more understanding and control when it comes to their own data.” 

"Employers are collecting more and more information about their employees, over a wider spectrum of life activities. We have to adapt the law to give workers more understanding and control when it comes to their own data.”
Professor Mathew Bodie

Bodie graduated from Princeton University and earned his J.D. at Harvard Law and LL.M. at New York University School of Law. His articles have appeared in the Boston University Law Review, Maryland Law Review, Washington University Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, and Virginia Law Review, among others. He is a frequent contributor to media on labor and employment issues and has been quoted numerous times recently in the New York Times regarding the Starbucks union organizing drive. 

Ushering in a New Era 

Befort says that stepping back from a lifetime of work is made easier with the hire of Garden and Bodie. “I’ve watched Charlotte and Matt become national leaders,” he says. “When I saw them present at conferences and share scholarship, I knew these two were really good. I’m proud to have them at Minnesota Law and look forward to where they will take us next.”

Kathy Graves is a Twin Cities-based freelance writer