Pandemic Privilege: Business Policies and Labor Value During COVID-19

Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


Sociology (SOCL)

First Advisor

Stephanie Limoncelli


Forcing businesses to adapt to new health and safety concerns, the COVID-19 pandemic offers an insight into how companies value their employees. Early research on COVID-19 suggests that working in essential businesses with in-person relations increases risk of employees both contracting and dying from COVID-19 (Rodriguez-Diaz et al. 2020:51). With serious risks to employee health, the COVID-19 pandemic requires us to analyze how we value and treat our workers. In this study, I will compare how businesses in the restaurant and technology industries value their employees through a qualitative content analysis. Reviewing company COVID-19 statements, I underscore how privilege between and within the two industries forms different corporate practices. Understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic becomes a case study for existing inequalities in the workforce, we can strive towards a future that fairly compensates workers for their labor.

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