Economic Exploitation and the Abuse of Rights

This seminar will study the law around exploitative transactions and the exploitation of legal rules. There are transactions that are freely entered and arguably beneficial that the law nonetheless regards as problematic. Unconscionability doctrine, anti price-gouging statutes, anti-usury law, consumer protection laws, and many aspects of employment law--including prohibitions on sex work and excessively dangerous work--all regulate such transactions. There are also exercises of legal rights, from spite fences to bad faith contract enforcement, that the law regards as abuses of those rights. This seminar will examine theoretical work on exploitation--what makes exploitation wrong and how the state should respond--and consider the varied ways that the law responds to exploitation.