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The Employee

A Political History

The Employee examines how American businesses dominated and influenced labor law as they pushed for an ever-narrower definition of "employee" and maneuvered to exclude workers from the right to organize.

Author Information

Jean-Christian Vinel teaches American history at Universite Paris-Diderot.


"As New Deal labor protections grow increasingly anachronistic and relations between workers and employers become more tenuous and unbalanced, Jean-Christian Vinel offers a startlingly original narrative explaining this shift. With painstaking research and shrewd insight, Vinel reveals an untold story: how more than a century of struggle over what it means to be an 'employee' has disempowered American workers. Anyone interested in the past and future of labor simply must read this fascinating book."—Joseph A. McCartin, author of Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike That Changed America"In this brilliant new book, Jean-Christian Vinel traces the origins of the blurry and shifting lines surrounding the legal category of the 'employee' and asks why democratic rights in the workplace have been denied to over ten million workers. Ranging from the Progressive Era to the recent effort to amend federal labor law through the RESPECT Act and gathering insight from both sides of the Atlantic, this book is essential reading for anyone who believes U.S. labor law must be refashioned to fit a new economy."—Craig Becker, General Counsel, AFL-CIO"The Employee is a sensationally good book that combines labor history, sociological analysis, and legal history, all the while keeping the larger story of American liberalism, management practice, and the history of ideas in the near background. Vinel's book is extraordinarily timely because in the twenty-first century, as never before, the entire world of work is undergoing such a radical and profound transformation."—Nelson Lichtenstein, author of State of the Union: A Century of American Labor
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