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Court Says Yelpers Are Not Actual Employees of Yelp, Don't Have to Be Paid

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The plaintiffs in the case argued they do the "same exact work" as Yelp employees known as "Yelp Scouts."

Unless you actually work here, Yelp doesn't have to pay you.
Unless you actually work here, Yelp doesn't have to pay you.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Yelpers — or people who voluntarily write Yelp reviews — are not employees, nor do they need to be compensated as such, says a new court ruling. Last year, a class action lawsuit was filed in which the plaintiffs argued they do the "same exact work" as paid Yelp employees known as "Yelp Scouts," and therefore they should be paid the same amount. The lawsuit says that Yelp is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, arguing that Yelp's decision to pay only some people is "discretionary" and illegal. The plaintiffs wanted all writers for Yelp — namely the voluntary ones — and "not just the ones which Yelp, Inc. chooses to pay in wages" to receive monetary compensation.

The plaintiffs alleged that Yelp "hired" them as writers, "controlled" their work schedules, and then "fired" them without much explanation, according to Forbes. However, a federal court slapped down the lawsuit last week. The court interpreted "hire" and "fire" as "account creation and termination." While the court acknowledged that Yelp may see some financial profit from "publishing the reviews written by the plaintiffs ... it does not necessarily mean that the writers are performing a service for Yelp."

This isn't the first time Yelpers have tried to sue the online review site for monetary compensation. In 2013, several Yelpers filed a class action lawsuit claiming that they are actually "unpaid employees and legally deserve pay for work." The Yelpers wanted "compensation of wages, benefits, and reimbursement for the reviews they created." However, that lawsuit was also dismissed.

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