Statement from the National Employment Law Project on the Passing of our Dear Friend and Colleague, Dr. William E. Spriggs 

Dr. William E. Spriggs


Dr. William E. Spriggs, Photo Credit: AFL-CIO

The entire staff and board of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) is heartbroken to learn of the passing of our dear friend and colleague Dr. William Spriggs.  A wonderful and brilliant man, Dr. Spriggs was fundamentally devoted to the notion that everyone deserved the opportunity to thrive.  He worked tirelessly to help make that vision a reality. 

Dr. Spriggs has done groundbreaking work on occupational segregation and labor market inequalities, demonstrating time and time again how our nation’s public policies and workplace practices drove workers of color and women into lower-paying jobs with little chance of upward mobility.  His important work guided the development of important public policy reforms designed to help give all workers opportunities to find good jobs, with fair wages, equitable working conditions, and ample benefits allowing them and their families to thrive.  His work led to many important appointments in the Clinton and Obama Administrations, including serving as Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Department of Labor in the Obama Administration. 

Most important to those of us affiliated with NELP, Dr. Spriggs was a friend, advisor, mentor and partner in all of our work.  He ably served on NELP’s Board of Directors until he joined the Obama Administration, and has worked closely with NELP on many important issues including reforming the unemployment insurance program and raising the minimum wage. 

He was unfailingly generous with his time and expertise, had an uncanny ability to shine a light on the most pressing problems facing workers, particularly workers of color, and never lost faith in our collective ability, hand-in-hand with workers across the country, to build worker power and to improve the conditions for workers so that they and their families could thrive.   Dr. Spriggs inspired everyone who had the privilege to work with him, spurring us on to work harder, smarter, and more strategically. 

One of the hallmarks of Dr. Spriggs’ work is that he did it all with genuine love and friendship for all those he knew.   The words mensch and gentleman truly describe Dr. Spriggs and we will miss him and the privilege of working in solidarity with him.  We will always remember our dear friend, all he taught us, and we will continue the work to dismantle occupational segregation and labor market inequality in his name and in his honor. We send our condolences to his family, colleagues, and loved ones. 

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