Menu ${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt}
Call (888) 831-8615
Se Habla Español
Shulman Kessler
navigating the complex world
of employment law

Website users who submit ‘content’ aren't necessarily employees

Yelp is a website that publishes crowd-sourced reviews about local businesses. The company was recently sued by a class of “reviewers” who said that they should be paid for the content that they supplied to the website, pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

However, a federal judge recently ruled that the reviewers are volunteers and are not employed by Yelp. Therefore, they are not entitled to payment.

The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit claimed that an employee-employer relationship existed because she had been “hired" by Yelp, and Yelp controlled her and other reviewers’ "work schedule and conditions.” The lawsuit also claimed that at least two of the reviewers had been “fired” by Yelp.

The court disagreed after finding that the so-called hiring was actually the process by which any member of the public can sign up for a Yelp account submit reviews, and the so-called firing was the process by which Yelp could terminate accounts because of conduct that the company did not allow.

After the decision was announced, an attorney for Yelp called the lawsuit “frivolous;” however, it does raise an important issue at a point in time when so many large websites depend on user-generated content to make money or even exist.

Ultimately, as a Forbes article pointed out, employment law could see a big change if the courts decide to add a third category of “volunteers” to the current protected categories of “employees” and “independent contractors” when dealing with for-profit companies.

While the judge in this case didn't go this far, it might not be the last time we hear from content-supplier "volunteers" and their rights under the FLSA.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Contact Us Today

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Office Location

Shulman Kessler LLP
534 Broadhollow Road
Suite 275
Melville, NY 11747

Toll Free: 888-831-8615
Fax: 631-499-9120
Map & Directions

Attorney Advertising