Invisible Bosses for Invisible Workers, or Why the Sharing Economy is Actually Minimally Disruptive.

University of Chicago Legal Forum 2017 (2018): 35-61.

28 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2017 Last revised: 7 Nov 2019

See all articles by Deepa Das Acevedo

Deepa Das Acevedo

University of Alabama - School of Law

Date Written: September 15, 2017

Abstract

For all the many ways in which the sharing economy is disruptive, there is one very important way in which it is not: it does not fundamentally disrupt the legal infrastructure governing labor and employment in the United States. This type of disruption has not happened in large part because the labor and employment changes wrought by the sharing economy — important and intriguing though they may be — are of degree rather than of kind. Foremost among these changes is the extent to which sharing economy companies behave like employers while disclaiming the obligations attached to an employer-employee relationship — essentially, the way in which they function like invisible bosses. This ostensibly unique feature of the sharing economy is simply the latest instance of workers being meaningfully controlled by someone not legally their employer: franchise workers and many independent contractors have long experienced the invisible authority of entities they don’t work for. But while the sense that platforms behave similarly to earlier employer forms is increasingly widespread among scholars and courts, little concrete analysis exists respecting the behaviors motivating that view. This paper explains just what it is about platform authority that makes it “invisible” by diving into the mechanics of platform applications and identifying specific practices — reputational feedback, vetting and termination practices, worker incentive structures etc — that contribute to the sense that platform workers are invisible workers at the mercy of invisible bosses.

Suggested Citation

Das Acevedo, Deepa, Invisible Bosses for Invisible Workers, or Why the Sharing Economy is Actually Minimally Disruptive. (September 15, 2017). University of Chicago Legal Forum 2017 (2018): 35-61. , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3037678 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3037678

Deepa Das Acevedo (Contact Author)

University of Alabama - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 870382
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States

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