AOL, Arianna Huffington Hit with Class Action Suit
By Jeff Bercovici
Huffington Post bloggers who think they ought to get paid for their volunteer writing have beenlitigating their case in the court of public opinion. Now they’re taking it to a real one.
Today, a group of bloggers led by union organizer and journalist Jonathan Tasini will file a class-action suit against the Huffington Post, founder Arianna Huffington, and AOL, which acquired the news-and-blogs site in February.
Tasini, the lead plaintiff, has been a blogger for Huffpo since December 2005, when the site was just seven months old. According to his blogger page, however, he stopped posting on February 10, three days after the purchase of the site by AOL was announced. I emailed him for more information about the suit; he responded by inviting me to participate in a conference call later this morning.
Tasini was also the lead plaintiff in New York Times Co. vs. Tasini, a lawsuit over the rights of papers to license the work of freelancers for distribution via electronic databases.That case was decided in favor of the plaintiffs.
AOL has been sued over its use of unpaid labor before: In 1999, two volunteers who served as chatroom moderators under its “Community Leader” program sued, saying they were essentially being used as workers in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. That suit was eventually resolved with a $15 million settlement.