Noah Zatz's interests include employment & labor law, welfare law and antipoverty policy, work/family issues, feminist legal & social theory, and liberal political theory. His writing and teaching address how work structures both inequality and social citizenship in the modern welfare state. Zatz’s primary focus is on which activities become recognized and protected as "work," how work is defined in relationship to markets, and how the boundaries of markets are themselves mediated by gender and race, among other things. His published scholarship engages these questions by studying the legal concepts of "work" in welfare work requirements and "employment" in labor & employment law, especially with regard to the status of family caretaking, prison labor, workfare, and sex work. Another major interest is how antidiscrimination law, and employment law more generally, address labor market inequality that is jointly produced by workers’ interactions with employers, coworkers, and actors outside the workplace.
As a teacher, Zatz is particularly committed to training public interest lawyers and to engaging students with law’s possibilities both as an instrument of injustice and as a contributor to emancipatory social change. To these ends and others, Zatz actively participates in UCLA’s Epstein Public Interest Law & Policy and Critical Race Studies programs.
Before entering law teaching, Zatz was awarded a Skadden Fellowship to work at the National Employment Law Project (NELP) in New York City. As a NELP staff attorney, he represented low-income individuals and community organizations in matters at the interface between the low-wage workplace and the welfare system. After law school, Zatz clerked for Judge Kimba M. Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and for Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He also has been a fellow at Princeton University's Program in Law and Public Affairs, a visiting fellow at the University of New Mexico School of Law and a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School and at Yale Law School.
Zatz’s current research explores how U.S. antipoverty programs exclude child care from assessments of a household's economic needs and how this exclusion links family caretaking’s status as nonwork with the inadequate provision of child-care assistance to employed parents. Another current project analyzes the theoretical basis for the “disparate impact” claim of discrimination, with an emphasis on the significance of intra-group differences and the importance they take on in contexts such as the racial significance of exclusions based on criminal records.