Steven L. Willborn

Judge Harry A. Spencer Professor of Law

208S LAW UNL 68583-0902
(402)472-9897 | Email

Areas of Expertise
  • Education Law
  • Employment Law
  • Discrimination Law
  • Labor Law
  • Pensions and Employee Benefits Law
  • J.D., cum laude, 1976, Order of the Coif, University of Wisconsin Law School
  • M.S., Counseling, 1976, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • B.A., magna cum laude, Philosophy, 1974, Northland College


  • Judge Harry A. Spencer Professor of Law, since 2009
  • Dean & Richard C. & Catherine Stuart Schmoker Professor of Law, 2001-2009
  • Interim Dean & Richard C. & Catherine Stuart Schmoker Professor of Law, 2000-2001
  • Richard C. & Catherine Stuart Schmoker Professor of Law, 1999-2000
  • Professor of Law, 1985
  • Associate Professor of Law, 1982
  • Assistant Professor of Law, 1979


Professor Willborn joined the faculty in 1979. He received his B.A. degree in 1974 from Northland College and his M.S. and J.D. (cum laude, Order of the Coif) degrees in 1976 from the University of Wisconsin. While in law school, he served as a member and editor of the Wisconsin Law Review. Professor Willborn was in private practice from 1976 to 1979. He has been a Fulbright Scholar at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London (1985-86); a Visiting Scholar at the Australian National University in Canberra (1988), the University of Toronto (1991), and Lincoln College, Oxford University (1993); and a Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan Law School (1992). Professor Willborn has been active in public service. Among other things, he has been Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Law School Admission Council, one of Nebraska's Commissioners to the Uniform Law Commission, and President of the International Association of Labor Law Journals. Professor Willborn has been licensed to practice law in Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin and to make cheese in Wisconsin. He teaches Employment Law, Labor Law, Employment Discrimination Law, and Pension & Employee Benefits Law.

Education Law

Law 717/G (3 cr) The role that law plays in education in the United States. The rights of students and teachers, special education and disability, school finance, school searches, student discipline, privacy of records, liability of school officials and discrimination based on gender and race. The emerging case law on state constitutional claims of education equity and adequacy.

Employment Discrimination Law

Law 680/G (3 cr) Legal issues pertaining to the legal control of discrimination.

Employment Law

Law 647/G (3 cr) Analysis of the employment relationship as it has developed outside of the collective bargaining context. History and current status of the employment relationship, including discharge-of-will, occupational safety and health, minimum wage/maximum hour legislation, unemployment compensation and noncompetition agreements.

Labor Law

Law 753/G (ECON *880) (3 cr) Legislative and judicial patterns of the modern labor movement; the objectives of labor combinations; the forms of pressure employed for their realization and prevention; strikes, boycotts, picketing, and lockouts; the legal devices utilized in carving out the permissible bounds of damage suits involving labor activity; the labor injunction; the National Labor Relations Board; the nature of collective bargaining agreements; extra legal procedure for settling labor disputes-the techniques of mediation, conciliation, and arbitration.

Pension and Employee Benefit Law

Law 751/G (3 cr) Law relating to pensions and employee benefits. The role of pensions and employee benefits in the compensation package, taxation of pensions, regulation of pension and benefit plans, ERISA fiduciary law, and issues relating to the termination of pension plans.


  • Laval, Viking, and American Labor Law, 32 Comparative Labor Law and Policy Review 1079 (2011)
  • Statistics is a Plural Word, 122 Harvard Law Review Forum 48 (2009)(with Paetzold)
  • Consenting Employees: Workplace Privacy and the Role of Consent, 66 Louisiana Law Review 975 (2006)
  • Onward and Upward: The Next Twenty-Five Years of Comparative Labor Law Scholarship, 25 Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal 183 (2005)
  • Workers in Troubled Firms: When Are (Should) They Be Protected, 7 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Labor and Employment Law 35 (2004)
  • Reasonable Accommodation in the Workplace, 44 William & Mary Law Review 1197 (2003)(with Schwab)
  • Regulating Pensions in Europe and the United States, 5 Employee Rights & Employment Policy Journal 327 (2001)
  • Taking Discrimination Seriously: Oncale and the Fate of Exceptionalism in Sexual Harassment Law, 7 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 677 (1999)
  • Public Pensions and the Uniform Management of Public Employee Retirement Systems Act, 51 Rutgers Law Review 141 (1998)
  • The Problem with Pension Portability, 77 Nebraska Law Review 344 (1998)
  • Deconstructing Disparate Impact: A View of the Model Through New Lenses, 74 North Carolina Law Review 325 (1996)(with Paetzold)
  • The Efficiency of the Common Law Reconsidered, 14 George Mason Law Review 157 (1992)(with Paetzold)
  • Women's Wages in Australia and the United States, 71 Nebraska Law Review 581 (1992)(with Gregory and Daly)
  • Employer (Ir)rationality and the Demise of Employment References, 30 American Business Law Journal 123 (1992)(with Paetzold)
  • Off the Mark: The Nebraska Supreme Court and Judicial Nominating Commissions, 70 Nebraska Law Review 277 (1991)
  • La Protección Social Cara a Cara Con la Incapacidad la Vejez y Muerte (Social Insurance in the United States), 5 Debate Laboral 93 (1990)(Costa Rica)
  • Individual Employment Rights and the Standard Economic Objection: Theory and Empiricism, 67 Nebraska Law Review 101 (1988)
  • Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value: Comparable Worth in the United Kingdom, 34 American Journal of Comparative Law 415 (1986)
  • Theories of Employment Discrimination in the United Kingdom and the United States, 9 Boston College International and Comparative Law Review 243 (1986)
  • Proof of Discrimination in the United States and the United Kingdom, 5 Civil Justice Quarterly 321 (1986)(United Kingdom)
  • The Disparate Impact Model: Theory and Limits, 34 American University Law Review 799 (1985)
  • Industrial Democracy and the National Labor Relations Act: A Preliminary Inquiry, 25 Boston College Law Review 725 (1984)
  • Employment Discrimination Laws in Nebraska: A Procedural Labyrinth (Two Parts), 62 Nebraska Law Review 225, 708 (1983)
  • Insurance, Public Policy, and Employment Discrimination, 66 Minnesota Law Review 1003 (1982)
  • A New Look at NLRB Policy on Multiemployer Bargaining, 60 North Carolina Law Review 401 (1982)
  • A Time for Change: A Critical Analysis of the Nebraska Administrative Procedure Act, 60 Nebraska Law Review 1 (1981)
  • Personal Stake, Rule 23, and the Employment Discrimination Class Action, 22 Boston College Law Review 1 (1980)
  • State Action in the Health Field, 1975 Wisconsin Law Review 1188 (Student Note)

Shorter Pieces:

  • Pick and Nebraska Employment Law: Interpreting Contracts and Good Faith, 1 Nebraska Law Review Forum 7 (2009)
  • A Lawyer's View of the Statistical Expert, 4 Law, Probability & Risk 25 (2005)
  • Picturing Harvey Perlman, 79 Nebraska Law Review 739 (2000)
  • The Omaha Riot of 1919, The Nebraska Lawyer (Jan. 2000)
  • A Nested Model of Disability Discrimination, (1999)
  • Leased Workers: Vulnerability and the Need for Special Legislation, 19 Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal 85 (1997)
  • Sex Discrimination in the Work-Place: Recent Developments in America, 1 Gender, Work and Organization 162 (1994)(United Kingdom)

Uniform Laws

  • Uniform Management of Public Employee Retirement Systems Act, 7A Uniform Laws Annotated 510 (Part II, 1999)(reporter)

Book Reviews

  • The Focus of Atlantic Crossings: Another View of Exceptionalism, 21 Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal 423 (2000), reviewing, Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (1998)
  • Book Review, 44 Industrial and Labor Relations Review 763 (1991), reviewing, Specter & Finkin, Individual Employment Law and Litigation (1989)
  • Book Review, 10 Comparative Labor Law Journal 256 (1989), reviewing, Knights & Willmott, Gender and the Labour Process (1986)
  • Labor Law Without Labor, 1988 Wisconsin Law Review 547, reviewing, Rothstein, Knapp, & Liebman, Cases and Materials on Employment Law (1987)




  • Employment Law: Cases and Materials, 5th ed. (Charlottesville, Va.: LexisNexis, 2012)(with Schwab, Burton, and Lester). 
  • The Statistics of Discrimination: Using Statistical Evidence in Discrimination Cases (Eagan, Minn.: West Group, 2011)(with Paetzold)(updated annually)
  • A Secretary and a Cook: Challenging Women's Wages in the Courts of the United States and Great Britain (Ithaca, N.Y.: ILR Press, Cornell University, 1989)
  • A Comparable Worth Primer (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Press, 1986)


  • Social Science and the Law of Disability and Aging: Testing the Assumptions of Discrimination Models (New York, NY: Springer, 2011)(with Wiener)
  • Mental Disorder and Criminal Law: Responsibility, Punishment, and Competence (New York, NY: Springer, 2007)(with Schopp, Wiener, and Bornstein)
  • Civil Juries and Civil Justice: Psychological and Legal Perspectives (New York, NY: Springer, 2007)(with Bornstein, Wiener, and Schopp)
  • Social Consciousness in Legal Decision Making: Psychological Perspectives (New York, NY: Springer, 2007)(with Wiener, Bornstein, and Schopp)
  • Women's Wages: Stability and Change in Six Industrialized Countries (Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1991)


  • Procedural Justice and the Structure of the Age and Disability Laws, in Social Science and the Law of Disability and Aging: Testing the Assumptions of Discrimination Models, eds. Richard Wiener & Steven Willborn (New York, NY: Springer, 2011)
  • The Story of Hazelwood: Employment Discrimination by the Numbers, in Employment Discrimination Stories, ed. Joel Wm. Friedman (New York: Foundation Press, 2006)(with Schwab)
  • United States, in The Evolving Employment Relationship and the New Economy, ed. R. Blainpain (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2001)
  • The Non-Evolution of Enforcement Under the ADA: Discharge Cases and the Hiring Problem, in Employment, Disability, and the ADA, ed. Peter Blanck, (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern Univ. Press, 2000)
  • Social Security Law in the United States, in International Encyclopaedia of Laws, ed. Roger Blanpain (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2000)
  • Human Rights and Social Security in the United States, in XV World Congress of Labour Law and Social Security, ed. Roger Blanpain (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 1998)
  • Enforcement of Labor Statutes: Evaluating Alternative Enforcement Schemes, in New Approaches to Employee Management, ed. David Saunders (Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1994)
  • Economic and Legal Perspectives on Women's Wages in Six Countries – An Overview, in Women's Wages: Stability Change in Six Industrialized Countries, ed. Steven L. Willborn (Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1991)
  • Vulnerable Workers in the United States – A Psychosocial and Legal Perspective, in Vulnerable Workers – Psychosocial and Legal Issues, eds. Marilyn Davidson & Jill Earnshaw (Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, 1991)



  • Public vs. Private Enforcement of Labor Statutes: Differences Over the Economic Cycle, Regulating for Decent Work: Regulating for a Fair Recovery, International Labor Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, July, 2011
  • Settlement of Labor Disputes: Trends, Practices, and Possibilities, VIII Regional Congress of the Americas, International Society of Labor and Social Security Law, Cartagena de Indias, Columbia, May, 2010 (Reporter for North America Region)
  • The International Labor Organization: Paradox and Promise, International Conference on Global Economic Recession vs. Deregulation: A Multi-Disciplinary Dialogue, Peking University and Shanghai Normal University, April, 2010
  • The (Non)Structure of American Labor Law, Beijing Institute of Technology Law School, April, 2010
  • Globalization, Labor Law, and the Race-to-the Bottom: The Efficient Regulation Hypothesis, Fifth International Conference in Commemoration of Marco Biagi, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy, March, 2007
  • A Lawyer's View of the Statistical Expert, Joint Statistical Meetings, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, August, 2004
  • Social Protection for the Unemployed, XVII World Congress, International Society for Labour Law and Social Security, Montevideo, Uruguay, September, 2003 (Reporter for the United States)
  • Worker Protections During Corporate Reorganizations in the United States, With Special Attention to Reorganizations During Bankruptcy Proceedings, The Club [of Labor Law Journal Editors], Madrid, Spain, April, 2003
  • The Evolving Employment Relationship and the New Economy, The Club [of Labor Law Journal Editors], Brussels, Belgium, April, 2001
  • Pensions, Health Care and the Employment Relationship, Transatlantic Perspectives Conference, University College, Dublin, Ireland, July, 2000
  • Labor Federalism, Workshop on Law & Economics and the Labour Market, University of Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands, May, 1997
  • Social Security in the Year 2000: Potentialities and Problems, XIVth World Congress, International Society for Labour and Social Security Law, Seoul, South Korea, September, 1994 (Reporter for the United States)
  • Labor Federalism, University of Birmingham School of Law, Birmingham, England, Dec. 2, 1993
  • Labor Federalism: Justifications for Federal Action, London School of Economics, England, Dec. 1, 1993
  • Labor Federalism: The Preference for Local Regulation, Newcastle Law School, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, November 24, 1993
  • Enforcement of Labor Statutes: Emerging Models and the Case of Women's Wages in Ontario, Canada, Conference on Human Rights and Employment: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, McGill University, Montreal, Canada, May 10-11, 1991
  • Social Insurance in the United States, American Regional Congress, International Society of Labor and Social Security Law, San Jose, Costa Rica, March 5-9, 1990 (Reporter for the United States)
  • Comparable Worth Developments in the United States, Women's Bureau, Australian Department of Employment, Education and Training, Canberra, Australia, June 1, 1988
  • Remedial Problems in Comparable Worth/Equal Value Cases: A Possible Solution, Birmingham University, England, February 18, 1988
  • Prevention of Anti-Union Discrimination Practices in the United States: Failed Promises, American Regional Congress on Labour Law and Social Security, Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 28, 1987
  • Equal Pay for Women: A Comparative Perspective, Department of Law, Glasgow University, Scotland, February 24, 1986
  • Equal Pay for Women, School of Law, Leicester Polytechnic, England, February 13, 1986
  • Equal Pay for Women, Department of Law, University of Nottingham, England, November 12, 1985
  • Labour Relations in the United States: Taft-Hartley to the Present, Faculty Seminar, University of London, England, November 8, 1985

Selected Domestic:

  • How Law School Rankings Are Made: What Students and Employers Need to Know, 7th Annual Legal Diversity Summit, Nebraska Minority Justice Committee, Creighton University, September, 2011 (Keynote Address)
  • Whistling at Work: Why Employers Undervalue Whistleblower Protections, Center for Health and Pharmaceutical Law and Policy, Seton Hall Law School, November, 2010
  • The International Labor Organization: Paradox and Promise, 5th Annual Labor and Employment Law Colloquium, Washington University Law School (St. Louis), September, 2010
  • Laval, Viking and American Labor Law and Comments on the Privacy Section of the Restatement of Employment Law, 4th Annual Labor and Employment Law Colloquium, Seton Hall Law School, October, 2009
  • Industrial Action in Confederated Systems, Conference on Comparative and International Labor and Employment Law, United States Branch, International Society for Labor and Social Security Law, Northwestern University Law School, May 20, 2009
  • Greatly Exaggerated: Globalization and the Fate of Labor Regulation, University of Houston Law Center, April 21, 2008
  • Academic Thinking About Employee Benefits: Biases, Heuristics and Values, Employers Conference, Chicago-Kent Law School, October 19, 2005
  • The International Labor Organization, the American Law Institute, and the Uniform Law Commission: Law Production by Private Groups, Conference on Comparative and International Labor and Employment Law, Chicago, Illinois, May, 2005
  • Griggs, Hazelwood, and Legal Perceptions of Fairness: The Role of Statistics on the Fairness Debate in the United States, Sixth International Conference on Forensic Statistics, Phoenix, Arizona, March, 2005
  • Trustee Time in an Imperfect World: Leave Time and Expense Reimbursement for Teacher Trustees, National Education Association Trustee Workshop, Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 13, 2002
  • The Value of Scholarship, Faculty, Research Colloquium, Washburn University School of Law, January 12, 2002
  • Regulating Pensions in Federal Systems: Lessons from Recent Attempts, Employee Benefits Section, AALS, New Orleans, LA, January 4, 2002
  • Thinking About Reasonable Accommodation, Disability & Identity Symposium, William & Mary College of Law, Oct. 27, 2001 (with Schwab)
  • The Duty of Impartiality for Public Pension Trustees, American Federation of Teachers Pension Conference, Philadelphia, PA, July 2, 2000
  • Equal Pay Matters, Town Hall Forum, Women's Bureau, United States Department of Labor, Kansas City, Missouri, May 3, 2000
  • Reasonable Accommodation in the Workplace, ADA Conference, University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, VA, April 8, 2000 (with Schwab)
  • The Uniform Management of Public Employee Retirement Systems Act: A Legislative Update, Public Funds Summit, San Francisco, California, December 14, 1999
  • Child Labor in the Global Economy, United Nations Working Group, Lincoln, Nebraska, September 22, 1999
  • Pay Equity: The Legal Landscape, Lincoln Women's Club/U.S. Department of Labor, Lincoln, Nebraska, August 26, 1999
  • The Uniform Management of Public Employee Retirement Systems Act, Public Funds Summit, Phoenix, Arizona, March 15, 1999
  • UMPERSA: A Substantive Overview, Benefits Conference for Public Employees, International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, Seattle, Washington, August 18, 1998
  • Protecting the Pensions of Firefighters, Annual Legislative Conference, International Association of Fire Fighters, Washington, D.C., March 18, 1998
  • What's Age Got to Do With It? National Conference of Christians and Jews, Lincoln, Nebraska, March 4, 1998
  • The UMPERS Act: Progress and Issues, National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers, Amelia Island, Florida, February 17, 1998
  • The UMPERS Act and Trustees Who Administer Retirement Programs, Board of Trustees, Nebraska State Retirement System, Lincoln, Nebraska, January 26, 1998
  • The UMPERS Act and Trustees Who Invest Funds, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Madison, Wisconsin, December 3, 1997
  • The Management of Public Employee Retirement Systems Act, National Education Association, Washington, D.C., October 30, 1997
  • Legislative Update, National Public Pension Funds Conference, National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers, Columbus, Ohio, September 24, 1997
  • Preparing Fiduciaries for the Future, Legal Education Conference, National Association of Public Pension Attorneys, Monterey, California, June 25, 1997
  • Trustees of Public Pension Systems, Trustee Group, American Federation of Teachers, Washington, D.C., May 19, 1997
  • Public Pensions, National Conference of Public Employee Retirement Systems, San Antonio, Texas, April 29, 1997
  • The Management of Public Employee Retirement Systems Act, Joint Conference of the National Council on Teacher Retirement, National Association of State Retirement Administrators, and the Government Finance Officers' Association, Washington, D.C., January 27, 1997
  • An Introduction to the Management of Public Employee Pension Funds Act, National Public Pensions Funds Conference, National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers, Cleveland, Ohio, September 27, 1996
  • Unions and State Regulation of Public Pension Plans, American Federation of Teachers Pension Conference, Cincinnati, Ohio, July 31, 1996
  • The Management of Public Employee Pension Funds Act, Legal Education Conference, National Association of Public Pension Attorneys, Charleston, South Carolina, June 27, 1996
  • Family Life in the Industrialized World, Symposium on Families in a Changing World, Wick Alumni Center, Lincoln, Nebraska, May 20, 1994
  • Employment Law, Panhandle Education Center, Chadron and Scottsbluff, Nebraska, February 10 and 11, 1992
  • Who Governs the Workplace: A Perspective on the Allocation of Authority, Employment Policies Conference, University of Nebraska College of Law, April 19, 1991
  • Drug-Testing: Law and Policy, Panhandle Education Center, Scottsbluff and North Platte, Nebraska, October 17, 18 and 19, 1990
  • Women's Wages: Lessons from Down Under, Fifth Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, Stetson University, Clearwater Beach, Florida, March 3, 1989
  • Hayward v. Cammell Laird: Comparable Worth in the United Kingdom, Women's Work/Women's Worth Research Conference, University of South Dakota, April 3, 1987
  • Legal Perceptions of Competency, First National Forum on Research in Aging, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, February 24, 1984

Research Areas

  • Education Law
  • Employment Law
  • Discrimination Law
  • Pensions and Employee Benefits Law
  • Labor Law