Yelp Reviewers Sue for ‘Unpaid Wages’

A group of Yelp reviewers has filed a class-action lawsuit, which argues that they deserve compensation for their work on the site.

Filed in a Los Angeles district court, the suit says Yelp simply designates its contributors as “independent contractors,” “interns,” “volunteers” or “contributors” — not actual employees, therefore violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“[Yelp] could not exist, nor make its enormous returns, without its domination and control over non-wage writers,” the filing said, even quoting one of the company’s co-founders, who said that “without the community of reviewers, there is no Yelp.”

All of the case’s plaintiffs, including Dr. Allen Panzer, Amy Sayers, Lily Jeung, and Darren Walchesky, claim to have worked a substantial number of hours for Yelp over many years, without being paid a cent for writing, researching, and editing reviews, upgrading prior reviews, and generally promoting the site.

Yelp, however, was not convinced. “This is a textbook example of a frivolous lawsuit; it is unfortunate the court has to waste its time adjudicating it and we will seek to have it dismissed,” a spokesman said in a statement emailed to PCMag.

“The argument that voluntarily using a free service equates to an employment relationship is completely without merit, unsupported by law and contradicted by the dozens of websites like Yelp that consumers use to help one another,” the Yelp spokesman continued ...

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