Suing Glassdoor for Bad Reviews

GlassdoorIn addition to poor customer reviews online, companies are feeling the pinch of negative employee comments, and they're taking action. Glassdoor has been targeted as the largest site for employee reviews about company management, interview processes, benefits, and pay. The site has been issued subpoenas for the names of people who posted views thought to be anonymous.

A lawyer arguing the case against Glassdoor claims, "The right to anonymous speech also extends to the Internet and those constitutional principles [of free speech], but at the same time the Constitution does not protect defamation. It does not protect statements that are false or could give rise to other claims, for example, false light or tortious interference."

At issue is whether comments are true or "maliciously false." If true, comments may be protected, but if they are false, the author may not be protected. The National Labor Relations Board (NLBR) has a role, as I've written about before on BizComintheNews. An attorney James R. Redeker, at Duane Morris explains:

"If an employer tried to take action against an employee who it found published something in either social or public media anonymously-and/or published something that was false and misleading-the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] general counsel and the board take the position that an employee is entitled to and protected in making statements with regard to the working conditions of their employer."

Glassdoor has refused hundreds of employers' requests for content to be removed and for identities to be revealed. The company argues, "Glassdoor is an anonymous community and we will vigorously fight on behalf of our users to protect their identities and right to free speech, provided they adhere to our community guidelines and terms of service."

Discussion Starters: 

  • What is an employee's responsibility when posting to sites such as Glassdoor?
  • Do you agree with Glassdoor's resistance to reveal identities and remove posts? Why or why not?
  • The attorney quoted in one of the articles said that companies can respond to comments online, but "...that's very unsatisfying. And sometimes it exacerbates the problem." What's your view? That's certainly how companies manage customer comments. How might this differ?