AOL did not pay its volunteers in the 1990s but did provide free access to the service as compensation. That was apparently deemed as sufficient in times when unlimited access was not the order of the day.
However, as those charges declined, some volunteers began complaining that AOL was illegally taking advantage of their labor as community leaders in responding to subscriber questions and monitoring chat rooms.
Federal courts are still considering two lawsuits filed by the so-called community leaders under the US Fair Labor Standards Act, one in 1999 and the other last week, filed in San Jose, California.
The latter case is demanding four years of back pay at $6.25 per hour, plus premium pay for any time worked in excess of eight hours each day, according to the Associated Press.