A lawsuit has been filed in California by four plaintiffs against review website Yelp seeking employee benefits and wages for posting free reviews. The reviewers, also referred to as “Yelpers,” claim that Yelp is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by refusing to pay wages to its reviewers.
Of the four plaintiffs named in the suit, three are considered “Elite” reviewers and two have more than 1,000 reviews on the website. Another plaintiff has 500 reviews, while another has only 70.
The lawsuit alleges that Yelp merely awards badges such as “Elite,” “First to Review” and “Review of the Day” to Yelpers as opposed to paying them minimum wage for their efforts. The lawsuit also claims that Elite reviewers were encouraged to leave positive reviews, otherwise they may lose their status.
The lawsuit also states that Elite users were thrown Yelp parties to encourage activity and provided free food and drinks, then expected to leave positive reviews for the business or venue that hosted the event.
Yelp issued a statement on the lawsuit, calling it “frivolous” and “completely without merit.”
Employment law in California requires all volunteers or interns of private companies to be paid at least minimum wage unless they are receiving college credit. The line between ‘employee,’ ‘intern’ or ‘trainee’ is sometimes very hard to define. If employers are not careful, they may be slammed with lawsuits like Yelp’s and forced to pay out unpaid wages and other benefits to interns or trainees that worked for free.
Employees are entitled to at least minimum wage and, in most cases, overtime wages. If you feel you are not being paid fair wages or your employer is refusing to pay overtime, our California employment attorneys can help you determine if you have a case. Contact our Los Angeles wage attorneys at (310) 273-3180 for a free consultation.
Did You Know: In most occupations, each workweek must be considered separately in determining overtime hours, regardless of the length of pay periods.
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob– Los Angeles employment attorneys