Court punts Yelp suit that claimed reviewers should be paid wages

On October 22, 2013, four regular reviewers on Yelp, Inc. (“Yelp”) sued Yelp in California District Court on behalf of a putative class, claiming that “every day millions of people use online reviews” and that the “hordes” of posters who contribute reviews to Yelp are being unfairly denied wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Yelp makes most of its money through advertising sales, brand advertising and affiliate revenue.  The content though is largely user-generated.

You can read the Complaint here.  The plaintiffs also allege quantum meruit and unjust enrichment.  It is an interesting claim and might have been interesting litigation.

Unfortunately, the case is over.  As LegalNewsLine notes, Yelp filed a Motion to Dismiss.  As to the FLSA claims, Yelp argued that it was not an “employer” of the “reviewers” because it did not have the power to hire and fire, lacked supervision and control over contributors, never determined pay rates, and never maintained employment records.  The Plaintiffs, as it turns out, did not even put up a fight.

The District Court dismissed the case, not necessarily because Yelp made a winning argument, but because Plaintiffs filed no response during the time provided by the rules.

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