Yelp Class Action to Pay Reviewers As Employees
There’s a class action lawsuit against Yelp that posits that reviewers should be paid based on a variety of other legal grounds. Normally Yelp’s lawyers just get the cases tossed. This time however, they are resorting to intimidation tactics, calling the plaintiffs and telling them that the lawyer is an ambulance chaser and unethical (yet I’ve reviewed the arguments and found them sound so who really cares if he’s out for a big payday), and they filed a complaint with the bar, and “someone” has called the uncle of one and said that his restaurant could suffer greatly from loss of customers to his restaurant and market, then he tells the plaintiffs that their suit is harming the family, putting greater pressure on them to drop it.
It’s clear with all the rulings lately that if “interns” or any other unpaid person replaces the work of a paid person, they are technically an employee! This has the potential to change the review landscape. The choice for Yelp would be to remove all paid reviews or pay for all the reviews. Either way, it spells disaster.
Every other class action I’ve seen, Yelp didn’t bat a eyelash, barely lifted a finger and swatted them into dismissal like flies. They’ve never been worried. EVER. And with each ruling, while I felt missed the point of the pain of the business owners, I could see the legal foundation and agreed that the ruling was legit, however disappointed I was that the business owners did not get justice, but the Yelp legal team proved again and again Yelp did nothing legally wrong.
So with a rash of rulings determining that unpaid interns are employees, independent contractors are employees, and a new Class Action that they can’t seem to swat away so easily, the fact that they going outside the direct route to make this case go away makes me think it might be time for a big class action firm to take a look and see the potential here.
Take a look at a few of the class action documents against YELP.
UPDATE: ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS, GRANTING MOTION TO STRIKE, DENYING MOTION FOR SANCTIONS, AND DENYING MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY CERTIFICATION OF COLLECTIVE ACTION. Signed by Judge Richard Seeborg on 8/13/15. (cl, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/13/2015) <— that means that the Judge sided with Yelp and that the case could be appealed, but that takes 3-5 years, appeals court usually sides with trial court, so then Supreme court, 7-9 years, maybe. So likely, this one is dead… for now.