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Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Law and Society

2017

Seattle University School of Law

Algorithm

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Employed By An Algorithm: Labor Rights In The On-Demand Economy, Elizabeth J. Kennedy Jun 2017

Employed By An Algorithm: Labor Rights In The On-Demand Economy, Elizabeth J. Kennedy

Seattle University Law Review

This Article analyzes the viability of legislation extending labor rights to workers currently excluded from protection in the on-demand economy. Uber, perhaps the most well-known business operating in the on-demand economy, classifies its drivers as independent contractors, which strips them of federal rights to organize a union. Uber argues that its algorithm-based business model has essentially transformed the employment relationship, suggesting traditional labor laws are no longer necessary. This argument is belied by the economic realities of the workers who make those algorithms possible and profitable. While some prefer working multiple “gigs,” many on-demand workers struggle to piece together full-time …