Human Research Subjects as Human Research Workers

75 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2013 Last revised: 6 Feb 2014

See all articles by Holly Fernandez Lynch

Holly Fernandez Lynch

Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: July 19, 2013

Abstract

Biomedical research involving human subjects has traditionally been treated as a unique endeavor, presenting special risks and demanding special protections. But in several ways, the regulatory scheme governing human subjects research is counter-intuitively less protective than the labor and employment laws applicable to many workers. This Article relies on analogical and legal reasoning to demonstrate that this should not be the case; in a number of ways, human research subjects ought to be fundamentally recast as human research workers. Like other workers protected under worklaw, biomedical research subjects often have interests that diverge from those in positions of control but little bargaining power for change. Bearing these important similarities in mind, the question becomes whether there is any good reason to treat subjects and protected workers differently as a matter of law. With regard to unrestricted payment, eligibility for a minimum wage, compensation for injury, and rights to engage in concerted activity, the answer is no – and human subjects regulations ought to be revised accordingly.

[This Article fleshes out several ideas presented in my chapter, Protecting Human Research Subjects as Human Research Workers, available at:http://ssrn.com/abstract=2242933]

Keywords: human subjects research, bioethics, labor and employment law

Suggested Citation

Lynch, Holly Fernandez, Human Research Subjects as Human Research Workers (July 19, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2296100 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2296100

Holly Fernandez Lynch (Contact Author)

Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania ( email )

423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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