Friday, November 6, 2009
Miriam Cherry (McGeorge, Visiting Georgia) (she likes "Georges" I guess) has posted on SSRN her piece in the Alabama Law Review: Working for (Virtually) Minimum Wage: Applying the Fair Labor Standards Act in Cyberspace.
From the abstract:
As more work enters cyberspace, takes place in virtual worlds, and collapses traditional nation-state barriers, we are entering a new era of “virtual work.” In this article, I use “virtual work” as an umbrella term to encompass work in virtual worlds, crowdsourcing, clickworking, even sweeping in, to some degree, the commonplace telecommuting and “mobile executives” that have become ubiquitous over the past decade.Are such new forms of “work” entitled to the minimum payment standards mandated under the FLSA? As the United States enters another economic crisis, and with advances in technology key to continued economic growth and stability, these questions demand serious consideration. The FLSA now faces a variety of new scenarios created by work in cyberspace, and there is a strong case that the economic and equitable purposes of the FLSA are best served by ensuring that the statute is construed broadly so that cyberworkers, clickworkers, and virtual workers receive the federal minimum wage . . . .
This Article begins, in Part One, with a brief background discussion of labor markets in cyberspace. The discussion here contains an in-depth description of the process of pounding the virtual pavement - looking for work in cyberspace - for the purpose of showing the special employment challenges in this context and thus why such work warrants the protection of the FLSA. With that background, Part Two discusses the application of the FLSA to work in virtual worlds, crowdsourcing, and clickworking. Finally, Part Three makes the argument that the purposes of the FLSA are best achieved by ensuring their application to virtual work in the United States. Finally, the conclusion offers some thoughts about the broader applications of this argument and some possibilities for further thought and study, to be developed in future work.
I have actually read this piece already and it is quite good and informative on a topic I know very little about. Check it out!