A group of reviewers recently filed
a class action lawsuitagainst Yelp, claiming that the company should treat them like employees and pay them for their reviews.
Yelp believes the suit is frivolous.
The suit argues that since Yelp’s business model and success is dependent on its over 42 million user-submitted reviews, the company technically employs those users and should fork over some cash (wages, reimbursement of expenditures, and damages). The plaintiffs believe that wilfully volunteering to share their thoughts about a business makes them employees because Yelp can only make money if it has their reviews.
The suit, filed on October 20 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claims that Yelp mis-classifies its “employees” as “volunteers, independent contractors, interns, contributors, freelance writers, reviewers, elites, or Yelpers.”
The site says harsh things about the company: “Yelp is a cult like exploiter of labour in violation of federal law and declared to be the ‘modern day mafia’ by a San Diego judge and ‘organised crime’ and ‘offensive’ by a Portland judge.”
Yelp, which went public in 2012, told Circa that the case is a “textbook example of a frivolous lawsuit” and said that the law does not support the idea that voluntarily using a free service equates to an employment relationship.
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