(WOMENSENEWS)–Civil rights laws, workplace safety and the Fair Labor Standards Act should not apply to welfare recipients who, in fact, should face tougher sanctions in order to make them work, Jason Turner, New York City’s welfare commissioner, told a Congressional subcommittee.

“The current federal interpretation of the applicability of workplace law is out of place in the context of state-run work experience programs under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families,” Turner said last week in his testimony before the human resources subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Turner was instrumental in designing the end of welfare in Wisconsin before he came to New York and his ideas were incorporated into the 1996 law that ended impoverished single parents’ entitlement to assistance.

Asked whether the work place protections guaranteed to most American workers also should apply to welfare recipients, Turner indicated the protections might be counterproductive by not encouraging recipients to work. He cited the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules and civil rights laws.