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Panzer v. Yelp Class Action

Panzer v. Yelp Class Action

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Published by HillaryDixler
Yelp Class Action Lawsuit
Yelp Class Action Lawsuit

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Published by: HillaryDixler on Oct 30, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/18/2014

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THE YELP CLASS-ACTION LAW FIRMRandy Rosenblatt (CA Bar
#
159738)
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Email:
in{o@yelpclassaction.info
Attorneys for PLAINTIFFSIN
THE
UNITED STATES
DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE
CENTRAL DISTRICT
OF
CALIFORNIA
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DR. ALLEN PANZER, AMY SAYERS, )LILY JEUNG, and DARREN )WALCHESKY, on
behalf
of
themselves)
and all others similarly situated )
CASE
;;&¥:l3
-078 0 5 "
CJ
'
jl
)
Plaintiffs, )
)
vs. )
)
YELP, INC. )
)
)
Defendants. )
-~~~~--~~~~-)
CLASSACTION
COMPLAINT
FOR
(1)
VIOLATIONS
OF
THE FAIR
LABORST
ANDARDS ACT;(2)
QUANTUM
MERUIT
(3)
UNJUST
ENRICHMENT
JURY TRIAL DEMANDEDPlaintiffs ("Plaintiffs"), on behalf
of
themselves and all other similarly situated persons, byand through their undersigned counsel, allege upon personal knowledge
as
to themselves and uponinfonnation and
belief
as to other matters, as follows:
I
NA
TURE
OFTHE
ACTION
1.
Every day, millions
of
people use online reviews to help them make purchasing decisions,whether for local tour-bus companies, law finns, pizza parlors,
or
sushi bars. Online reviews area popular and valuable resource for consumers to learn about local businesses and professionals2. Defendant Yelp owns and operates popular websites that feature infonnation about localbusinesses nationwide and around the world that include ratings, reviews, photos and more.
CLASS-ACTION
COMPLAINT
 
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Yelp's
websites, average 108 million visitors
per
month, and users have posted over 42 millionreviews to them.
3.
A vast majority
of
the ratings, reviews, and photos posted on Defendant
Yelp's
websitesare created and
supplied
by a large and ever-growing stable
of
non-wage-paid writers. Thislawsuit seeks to recover unpaid compensation for Plaintiffs and other similarly situated workerswho have been employed by Defendant in the United States.4. Defendant
Yelp
is an American online media
company
and weblog network, based inSan Francisco, CA. Defendant has been listed in major
news
publications as being among themost financially successful weblogs in America. One article in particular attributes Defendant'shuge profit margin to its low operating costs, which is in large part attributable to the non-wage-paid labor
of
its workers. Defendant, by virtue
of
its
management
and control over the nature
of
the wages and work
of
its employees, is an
"employer"
under applicable labor law.
5.
Yelp earns its income
by
selling advertising on its site, the content
of
which
is
createdfree-of-wages by hordes
of
solicited posters, in violation
of
the Federal Labor Standard Act("FLSA").
6.
This is a class-action complaint under Section 216(b)
of
the Fair Labor Standards Act("FLSA") based
on Defendant's
policies and practices
of
refusing to pay wages to its workersby designating them variously as "reviewers"
or "Yelpers"
or
"independent contractors"
or
"interns"
or
"volunteers" or "contributors" even though they are performing vital work that inuresto the benefit
of
Yelp's
various
business
enterprises. Defendant could not exist, nor make itsenormous returns, without its domination
and
control over non-wage writers.
One
of
Defendant' sco-founders stated:
'The
site wasn't set up to serve businesses, it was meant to serve the consumer.Without the community
of
reviewers, there is no Yelp."
7.
Business journal commentators have compared said business practices to a
21
st Centurygalley slave ship with pirates banging the drum to keep up the fast pace and to fill the pockets
of
2
CLASS-ACTION
COMPLAINT
 
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their stockholders with treasure. . . and with "overhead that would shame an antebellumplantation." "Yelp's business model profits
off
the unpaid work ofreviewers".
8.
Defendant's business model and slip-shod approach to its policies and practices havebecome suspect in both the public forum, as witnessed by the proliferation and popularity
of
suchwebsites as
yelp-sucks.
com;
and within the courtrooms. I9. The practice
of
classifying employees as "reviewers" or "Yelpers"
or
"Elites" or"independent contractors"
or
"interns"
or
"volunteers" or "contributors" to avoid paying wagesis prohibited by federal law, which requires employers to pay all workers who provide materialbenefit to their employer,
at
least the minimum wage. Defendant, by virtue
of
its managementand control over the nature
ofthe
wages and work
of
ts writers, is an "employer" under applicablelabor law.
10.
Additionally, Defendant, has been, and continues to be, unjustly enriched by the unpaidcontributions provided by these plaintiffs and all those similarly situated.Unjust enrichment
is
based upon society's interest in preventing the injustice
of
a person's retaining a benefit for whichno payment has been made to the provider.
II.
The named plaintiffs, and persons similarly situated, are persons who each worked asubstantial number
of
hours for Defendant over a number
of
years, and were not paid a single cent20 for their work. The
work
they perfonned --writing, researching, editing, lodging reviews,
21
upgrading prior
reviews,
and generally promoting the site
--is
central to Defendant's business22 model as a publisher.23
12.
On infonnation and belief, Defendant employs
lOs
of
thousands other "reviewers" in
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IOregon Superior Court Judge Henry Kantor stated that Yelp's business model
is
"offensive" and "highly problematic." California Superior Court Judge Peter Doft, characterizedYelp's actions as
"the
modem day version
of
the Mafia going to stores and saying
'Y
ou wannanot be bothered
...
you wanna not have incidents
in
your store? Pay
us
protection money'."
CLASS-ACTION
COMPLAINT

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