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Alabama Law Review

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When Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA")' in 1938 to help relieve the downward spiral of wages in the Great Depression, America's workers commonly showed up to an employer's place of business, leaving little doubt if they were "working" and thus entitled to the statute's minimum wage. Times, and technologies, have changed. With modem computers, individuals often perform work on someone else's behalf while sitting at home, using not their employer's factory machinery, but rather a computer they purchased for themselves, as well as their own Internet connection. The work is often engaging and is far more pleasant than operating a drill press of the 1930s. In ways, some of this online "labor" can even feel creative, or be part of a game or a competition.

Are such new forms of "work" entitled to the minimum payment standards mandated under the FLSA? As the United States finds itself in 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 clickworkers—the new virtual workers—receive the federal minimum wage.



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