This creates a race to the bottom, in which smaller companies are permitted to exploit workers, defile the environment, and violate all sorts of other minimum standards, all in the name of allowing them to preserve some meager amount of remaining market share.
Small businesses are no more exempt from laws than big businesses are. Yeah - it's harder to unionize when there are only a handful of employees but the Teamsters will flip a grocery store with 10 employees. And the cutoff in my state for employer contributions to paid family leave is fifty.
As Bruenig details (along with Atkinson and Lind) federal laws that forbid discriminating against workers based on race, gender, religion, or disability only apply to businesses with 15 or more workers; for laws against age discrimination, it's 20 or more workers.
This is due to the enforcement overhead of small companies, as well as the acknowledgement that you cannot establish a pattern with so few examples. State laws are a whole 'nuther matter. I was at a firm that was successfully sued for age discrimination with 12 employees.
The federal minimum wage exempts employers with gross annual revenue under $500,000, as well as employers that don't do business in multiple states.
$500k in gross revenue is pretty easy to hit. That's $10k a week. If you're in the business of $10 margaritas, that's less than 150 margaritas a day. Assume you sell meals for an average of $25 a meal. You serve 56 people a day and you're at half a million in gross revenue.
It makes total sense. There's a cost to enforcement and the fines for violating these laws are small enough that unless there's real money behind it, going after a million tiny companies that are going to be dead in three years anyway is utterly pointless. Nearly all businesses at the scale discussed are sole proprietorships, the rest have an employee or two. Separating out "workplace discrimination" from "personality dispute" is pretty tough when there's only two people on the payroll.
There is a common narrative that small companies are the engine of job creation in the economy, but this is also wrong: More or less by definition, small businesses fail as often as they start, and that ongoing churn of failure destroys roughly as many jobs as small business startups create.
Right so let's stack the deck even higher. Missed in this whole discussion is the resources a large company has to bring to bear against labor lawsuits, vs. the startup where the founder hasn't taken a salary in 18 months.
As for the pro-bigness left, they're right that one way to deal with this problem is to rebuild workers' coordination power (through rebuilt unions and new labor law and sectoral bargaining and such) until they are big enough to counteract the power of big firms.
Jeff found one article from Jacobin (Jacobin!) arguing that it's easier to unionize a big shop than a small one. That's his "pro business left." Monopolies are derided across the political spectrum. Frickin' Tucker Carlson has come out against monopolies. Marco Rubio has come out against monopolies. This is a settled discussion.
Life under the giant nation-bestriding private goliaths of modern American capitalism may be an alienating and anti-democratic mess, but there's no intrinsic guarantee life would improve under giant nation-bestriding socialist institutions.
How did we jump from "enforce the federal minimum wage" to "USSR" in one easy step?
This is a "teach the controversy" take on anti-monopoly legislation every bit as dumb as intelligent design vs. evolution.