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Yelp Reviewers Are Not Employees
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Summary: The plaintiffs trying to secure payment from Yelp for posting reviews on their website were dismissed by a district judge.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California ruled that when people, specifically the plaintiffs, write reviews of businesses on Yelp, they are not writing as an employee of the company so they are not entitled to compensation. He concluded that if anything, the plaintiffs could be consider volunteers.


The confusion may have come from the word usage that Yelp uses when people create an account to write reviews under. Yelp Inc. uses “hired” for any member of the public that wishes to write a review of a company by signing up. They then use “fired” when a member breaches it terms of service agreement for misconduct.

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Daniel Bernath of Florida compared Yelp to a “21st century galley slave ship” that profits off the work of unpaid writers. A representative of Yelp countered by stating that users post “because they want to spread the word about great local businesses in their neighborhood not because they expect payment.”

The company was granted motions to dismiss the suit through California’s anti-SLAPP law. They were represented by their senior litigation director Aaron Schur as well as Adrianos Facchetti of Pasadena.

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