Bloggers for the Huffington Post received a heavy blow this month when a circuit court judge rejected their appeal to restore their lawsuit against AOL Inc. for the $105 million in services they provided to The Huffington Post but were not paid for when the company was sold to AOL Inc.
The case sought class-action status for some 9,000 Huffington Post employees who claimed that they were tricked into providing free content for the website. They argued that they only provided the material "on the understanding that it would be provided as a public service and wouldn't be sold to a larger media organization." But when AOL bought The Huffington Post in 2011 for an estimated $315 million, many of the bloggers questioned why they were not being paid for their services.
According to a 2nd Circuit Court judge, the bloggers in no way proved that their work was purely for public service nor did they prove that The Huffington Post would not be sold to another company at anytime. The judge went on to say that the bloggers knew that The Huffington Post was a for-profit company, that it received revenue from their submissions through advertising, and that they would receive compensation "only in the form of exposure and promotion."
Although a majority of people in Indiana-and in other states-disagree with the court's decision, this unpaid-wage claim does present a learning moment for writer's who may find themselves in similar positions or may be considering jobs that may put them in instances such as this. If a person feels that their employment agreements have been violated, even if they think that they understand the expectations and compensation of a job to the fullest extent, they are well advised to speak to an employment lawyer to take your complaint to the next level.
Source: Reuters News, "Unpaid bloggers lose bid to revive Huffington Post case," Nate Raymond, Dec. 12, 2012