A Mudd Law Review on Employees Submitting Internet Reviews

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A company’s online reputation is not only important to bring in customers, but also for attracting top talent. When someone sees a job posting for a company, the first step might be learning more about the company from other employees. It may be a natural process to check out Facebook, Yelp, or Glassdoor and see what others on the inside have to say.  Indeed, more and more job seekers turn to employee review websites. For example, a 2016 Forbes article found Glassdoor has more than 11 million employee reviews for a half million companies.  It also receives 30 million unique visitors a month. 

Negative Ex-Employee Reviews

But what is a company supposed to do when an irate ex-employee takes to the internet to vent their frustration? Their ethics may be in question in this situation and possibly their freedom of speech. 

Mudd Law Offices Principal Attorney Charles L Mudd Jr refers to a balance between what can be considered free speech and what can be posted on the internet in SHRM’s article “Companies Fight Bad Online Reviews with Lawsuits.” 

Charles Mudd also explains that the Constitution does not protect defamation. People who post anonymous online reviews often become surprised that subpoenas can be issued for the IP addresses used with their posts and, eventually, their identities.

Fake Employee Reviews

Also, do not be fooled if an employee submits a fake review. If an employee did not leave the company on good terms, they may not be telling 100% of the truth. The employee does not have the company’s best interest in mind and may use review boards to attack or retaliate against the company. 

As Charles Mudd explained in the Bloomberg BNA article, “Companies Take Aim at Anonymous Online Reviews,” most employers believe their first solution may be to address reviews head-on.  But Charles advises employers to consider public perception before engaging an anonymous reviewer online, especially if you know the review is fake. 

Signs of a Fake Review

There are a few clues that will tip you off the review is fake.

Language: First, look at the language used within the review. Each industry has key phrases and certain jargon. (For example, many law firms may talk about billable hours or paying a retainer.) Those writing a fake review may try to use industry terminology in order to make a review appear real. But overcompensating with keywords, could make the post suspicious.  

Frequency: Also, look at the number of reviews. If a company receives an unprecedented volume of reviews within a short time frame, this is also red flag. Also, if multiple reviews use the same language, it is possible the reviews have been made up by the same person. 

Profile: Look at the user’s profile who posted the review. Be wary if the user has an anonymous profile, no information listed, and no other activity associated with the profile. This might not be a real employee. 

If you are worried about a negative review hurting your company’s reputation or have a fake review and not sure how to tell if it is fraudulent, contact Mudd Law. Our attorneys can help your company determine if you have a fraudulent review and provide guidance on how to best handle review situation.