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Work law, Sharing economy, Employer-employee relationship, Tracking, Platform economy, Exercise of control


Because the idea that sharing economy companies operate as invisible bosses is central to many critiques of this new approach to labor exchange, Part I begins by explaining just what it is about their authority that makes it “invisible.” Part II extends this discussion to two earlier developments that, like the sharing economy, also significantly transformed the way Americans work: the franchise explosion of the 1950s and the spread of the independent contractor model in the late twentieth century. This article is the first to offer a detailed comparison of work practices used by sharing economy companies, franchises, and some independent contracting companies to discuss how these entities seem like invisible bosses. I conclude with a few thoughts on what the comparison tells us about regulating labor in the sharing economy.

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The University of Chicago Legal Forum