Jul. 12, 2019
I've written about how companies abuse "reviews" on Yelp, Google, and all of the other "rating sites." Today I want to discuss a growing problem with former employees. Two clients this week terminated employees, who within hours of termination created fake personas and posted offensive reviews of the businesses. Former employees posting bogus reviews have done this in the past, however, lately, they are brazen about it, because "rating sites" are helpless or unwilling to do anything about it.
One of my clients fired an employee for lacking in their skills, regardless of whether or not they deserved to being fired, the former employee's response borders on negligence. The employee not only went onto Google and posted a bad review, but they also went to Yelp and others. All of these posts occurred within hours of their fired, all with visible fake accounts. We have contacted Google and the others, and we're not holding our breath.
The second client, under attack from competitors posting bad reviews, in many cases we've managed to get them reviewed, but lately less so. The employee fired posted shortly after that five bad reviews, each one similar to the other, and all within minutes of each other. Again we've contacted the sites to remove the posts, and yet we're not expecting much.
If Google, Yelp, and others want to publish reviews on businesses, I believe they have a legal responsibility to respond to the complaints of the stores. The sites do have a form but rarely agree with the company in regards to the reviews. I also think that Google accurately can keep these reviews in check if it chose to. Yelp claims that they keep out fake reviews, but former employees, for the most part, get their fake reviews posted.
Is the former employee legally liable for damaging the business name under pretense? Can the employee be sued for financial damages? Can Google, Yelp, and others be held legally responsible for the "fake" reviews? I have instructed my clients that when they are contacted by the former employees' next employer, to refuse to give a recommendation. Without proof that the former employee posted the negative review, the business is opening itself to a lawsuit for defamation; ironic isn't it?
My recommendation to employers is to make employees sign upon hiring, a letter stating that they will not post anything negative about the company online during or after their employment as a prerequisite to being hired. Hopefully, this contract will make the employee think twice and will open the door for the employer to be able to file a lawsuit against the former employee for defamation should they so chose.
I would love to hear any attorney's point of view in this matter. Feel free to contact this site, and we may feature your post on this site.
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The key when reviewing reviews is looking for a picture and legitimate name, otherwise it's spam.
Doc [Jul. 15, 2019]