The Law & Political Economy of Workplace Technological Change

51 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2019 Last revised: 31 Jan 2020

See all articles by Brishen Rogers

Brishen Rogers

Temple University, James E. Beasley School of Law ; Roosevelt Institute

Date Written: January 29, 2020


Abstract: This article explores how labor and employment laws shape workplace technological change. It focuses on emerging data-driven technologies such as machine learning, the branch of artificial intelligence that has sparked widespread concern about the future of work. The article argues that labor and employment laws shape employers’ technological choices in two ways. First, those laws help to facilitate technological development by granting employers broad rights to gather workplace data, to develop new technologies using that data, and to implement those technologies into the workplace, typically regardless of workers’ preferences. Second, those laws channel technological development in certain directions, in particular by encouraging companies to use technologies to exert power over workers and therefore cut labor costs. This analysis has policy implications. Among other things, it suggests that ensuring a decent future of work requires reforms that would give workers a voice in the process of workplace technological development and deployment.

Keywords: Machine Learning, Labor Law, Employment Law, Law and Political Economy

Suggested Citation

Rogers, Brishen, The Law & Political Economy of Workplace Technological Change (January 29, 2020). Harvard Civil Rights- Civil Liberties Law Review (CR-CL), Vol. 55, 2020. Available at SSRN: or

Brishen Rogers (Contact Author)

Temple University, James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Roosevelt Institute ( email )

570 Lexington Ave.
5th Floor
New York, NY 10022
United States

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