There are some Houston residents out there who probably feel that one of their ideas was used by their employer, but they were never given proper credit. This concept is a little different than performing your job and the company benefitting from it; but the feeling could be pretty similar if you feel the work you did was above your job criteria, and if the company benefitted in an exceptional way.
However, this doesn't always mean that your frustration can turn into a lawsuit. Yes, there are circumstances where your work or ideas can truly be stolen in illegal ways -- but, in many cases, there is no legal basis for a lawsuit.
Some Huffington Post bloggers are finding this out the hard way. Five of them say that their work for the popular news website helped facilitate a $315 million sale of Huffington Post to AOL last year. The five bloggers filed a lawsuit on behalf of 9,000 others in their position, claiming they were owed exactly 33 percent, $105 million, of that sale price.
What was their reason? Well, that is a little more complicated. This isn't a "breach of contract" matter, because the bloggers were not promised anything for their content other than exposure to online viewers. Instead, the bloggers are claiming "unjust enrichment" -- that is, Huffington Post unfairly benefitted from the bloggers work. Usually this claim applies to a mistake or work that was performed under certain conditions.
The claim did not work though, as the bloggers' case was tossed out twice -- once originally and again upon appeal.
Source: Wall Street Journal, "Unpaid HuffPo Bloggers Lose Appeal in Suit against News Site," Dan Strumpf, Dec. 12, 2012