When's the last time you wrote a review on Yelp? Amazon? Or for that matter, anywhere? When you wrote it, I doubt you thought (unless it was your actual job) that you should get paid for it.

Well, a group of Yelp reviewers in California are suing Yelp for wages they say they are entitled to, saying they are "unpaid employees," and contribute greatly to the company's existence. “The practice of classifying employees as ‘reviewers’ or ‘Yelpers’ or ‘Elites’ or ‘independent contractors’ or ‘interns’ or ‘volunteers’ or ‘contributors’ to avoid paying wages is prohibited by federal law, which requires employers to pay all workers who provide material benefit to their employer, at least the minimum wage,” the plaintiffs say in the lawsuit.

Another plaintiff shed light on another alleged practice by Yelp, which sees them cancel accounts that leave negative reviews for companies that are paying for advertising on the site: "One plaintiff stated: 'My situation is a little different. I left a negative review on Yelp regarding one of their advertisers. Not only was my review removed, but I also received an email cancelling my Yelp account and stating that I could no longer write reviews or get access to any that I had written. I was fired by Yelp for supposedly breaking one of their rules, which I didn't.'"

Another plaintiff attacks Yelp's practice of giving reviewers "Elite" status, saying that the company puts pressure on writers to write more reviewers, or lose their status: 

“In order to maintain her 'Elite' status, (plaintiff Lily Jeung) was often directed to write more reviews if in Yelp's opinion her production seemed to slack off,” the lawsuit says. “Ms. Jeung was fired from her position with no warning, a flimsy explanation, and no opportunity for recourse or appeal rights. Her license to write reviews was revoked; the awards she had attained were taken away; and her reviews were removed from the website, and she has been refused access to her own writings.”

Yet, regardless of their experiences, they jump the shark when they compare their situation to being on a slave ship: "Business journal commentators have compared said business practices to a 21st-century galley slave ship with pirates banging the drum to keep up the fast pace and to fill the pockets of their stockholders with treasure. . . and with 'overhead that would shame an antebellum plantation.'"

Check out the documents here.

[via The Huffington Post]