aEmployer online review sites are becoming a normal part of everyday business. While there are many employer review sites like Angie’s List and Yelp, none are more popular or powerful than Glassdoor, which attracts north of 50 million users per month.
Unfortunately, negative and fake reviews on Glassdoor can discourage potential employees (and job applicants) and lead to online defamation of a company or business owner. Having a favorable profile on Glassdoor, on the other hand, is vital for employers to attract the best caliber candidates.
At Minc Law, we have worked with countless companies who need guidance as to how to navigate the challenges that employers face with Glassdoor.
Generally, there are three ways to remove a negative or fake Glassdoor review:
- Work with the original author to remove the review;
- Flag and report the review to Glassdoor;
- Pursue legal action against the employee.
In this article, I will review the best ways to remove negative Glassdoor reviews and provide actionable tips you can implement. I will also outline ways to prevent negative reviews before they even happen.
This article does not address how to respond to negative and fake reviews on Glassdoor, as we generally advise clients against doing so in many situations. Oftentimes, responding to bad reviews (and fake reviews) makes the situation worse, so pursuing a Glassdoor review removal should be your first course of action and we focus in on here as the gold standard of remedies.
How a Bad Glassdoor Review Can Make Or Break Your Company
To start with, I cannot stress how important it is for businesses to immediately address bad Glassdoor reviews when they happen. Online employer and company reviews have become the first and most influential factors that employees research and look to when determining whether to work for or engage with a company. In fact, nearly 83% of all job seekers research a company’s reviews and ratings before even applying.
What better website to get a comprehensive insight into a company’s management, salaries, company culture, and benefits, than Glassdoor – a leading employer and company review website boasting over 60 million unique users per month.
Having a positive online reputation on Glassdoor is no longer an “added bonus” that is weighed when determining whether to work for or engage with a company. It is the new standard of what every potential employee applying to your company expects to see.
A positive company Glassdoor profile can make or break a company’s employee hiring, retention, satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. For example, a 1-star improvement in a company’s Glassdoor rating raises the odds that a typical employee will stay for their next position by 4%. What is more, it costs employers 33% of a worker’s annual salary to hire a replacement if that worker leaves.
If your business has been hit with a negative or fake review on Glassdoor, do not worry! Every company inevitably receives negative or fake reviews. You can provide an enjoyable work environment, great salary and benefits, ample growth opportunities, and treat every employee with the utmost respect, and still receive a negative or fake review.
Whether it is an anonymous online troll, disgruntled employee or ex-employee, jealous and bitter professional competitor, or dissatisfied client, it happens to every company. What is critical is that you act to remove the negative or false review as quickly as possible.
Work With the Original Author to Remove the Review
The most effective and straightforward way to get a negative review removed is to directly approach the original author. Resolving the problem with the source is the only way to truly ensure the problem does not reappear down the road.
Take note: if you have reason to believe the review is fraudulent, fake, or not from an actual employee, this is probably not the best approach. In such a case, your best option is to flag the content or pursue legal action as we describe later below.
When deciding how to approach the situation, it is important to consider the following:
- Do you understand why the author left the review they did?
- Should you contact the current or former employee or reach out at all?
- Who should reach out – management, HR, the CEO?
- Timing of your contact (the sooner, the better).
- Method of contact (we usually recommend a phone call).
- What are reasonable options to remedy the situation (severance, confidentiality, etc…)?
Customer service is always a good strategy for dealing with ornery customers. Dealing with negative employee reviews are not much different. Granted, we recommend that businesses do not respond to the review on the website where it was posted.
Responding to the review could make the review even more visible in your online search results. Responding can also make it harder to get the review removed at a later date if you decide to flag and report it or pursue legal action, so we suggest contacting the author privately.
If possible, reach out with a phone call listen carefully to their demands, or complaints. Assure the employee their feedback is being taken seriously. It is extremely easy for a message to be misinterpreted online or in an email so personal communication is key. Online and digital messaging can come across as impersonal.
Once you get in touch, it is extremely important to listen actively and care. Let the employee know that their feedback is appreciated. Give them a chance to talk and offer honest criticisms. Sometimes, people just want to feel like they have been listened to and have a voice or vent. Be prepared to offer solutions and let them know you will address the problems. Assuming they are reasonable.
A heartfelt apology and a chance to feel heard may be enough to resolve a lot of problems and reviews without the need for legal intervention or any abuse reports to Glassdoor.
While oftentimes clients can resolve a negative situation with exemplary customer service and management skills, sometimes an employee-employer relationship may have deteriorated or become so strained that seeking legal help to handle this is advisable.
If an honest and heartfelt customer service driven approach does not work, then it is time to flag and report the review. We cover this in the next step.
Flag & Report the Review
While we recommend personal contact with the author to resolve bad reviews as a first step, sometimes ex-employees can be too irrational or unreasonable to deal with. In these cases, nothing you say or offer will suffice, and reaching out may even make the situation worse.
If you are dealing with a fraudulent review or get the impression someone is attempting to extort you or posting fake reviews under multiple aliases, it can be best to pursue options other than direct contact to get reviews taken down.
When a personal phone call is not possible (or practical) you may be able to turn to Glassdoor for assistance. Glassdoor has policies against false reviews, defamatory reviews, and inappropriate content.
With respect to defamatory and false reviews, the Glassdoor website notes that, “it is not our role to investigate and fact check each statement in a review.” However, they also clarify that they will remove reviews “if it’s obvious…that a review is false based on our access to reliable information from an independent source.”
Defamation Fact: In order to bring a defamation claim against an author, a plaintiff must prove specific facts to succeed. In most states, a plaintiff must prove that: (1) the defendant published a false statement purporting to be a fact; (2) the statement concerns the plaintiff; (3) the defendant acted with negligence or actual malice when publishing the false statement; and (4) the plaintiff suffered reputational and/or economic harm as a result of the publication.
How to Flag a Glassdoor Review
- Content that misrepresents the author’s current or former affiliation with an employer;
- Fake or fraudulent accounts;
- Content that is defamatory, libelous, or fraudulent that the author knows to be false or misleading;
- Threats, harassment, and abusive, racist, or bigoted content;
- Content that promotes illegal activities;
- Content that violates confidentiality, non-disclosure, or other contractual restrictions;
- Content that violates a third party’s intellectual property or proprietary rights;
- Content that is sexually explicit;
- Content that reveals or solicits identifying information from minors.
For example, to combat fraudulent reviews, Glassdoor users may only write one review per year, per company worked at. Should Glassdoor find evidence of a user posting multiple reviews about the same company and through separate accounts, all contributions from that user’s accounts will be removed.
- “Accusing someone of awarding city contracts to friends and giving bribes;
- Stating as “fact” that someone falsified evidence and presented it in court; and
- Stating that based on “my own firsthand experience with this building, and its owners a landlord sought to evict 6 tenants and likely contributed to the deaths of 3 tenants and the departures of 8 others.”
To use your employer profile to flag reviews, you need to sign up for a free employer account with Glassdoor. This will enable you to respond to employee reviews and take ownership of your company profile. As a business owner, it is wise to claim as many online review site profiles as possible to boost your online reputation.
To flag a review on Glassdoor, click the Flag icon located below the content. Then, choose the reason you are reporting the review from the drop-down menu and click Next.
In the text box, explain why you are reporting the review and which policy you think the review violates. According to Glassdoor, they will respond to your request within 48 business hours. However, flagging a review on Glassdoor generally only leads to its removal when it clearly violates their Community Guidelines.
If you report a Glassdoor review and they do not remove it, and you think that it violates their Community Guidelines, then we recommend seeking legal help as soon as possible.
At Minc Law, we have extensive experience removing reviews from Glassdoor and other popular employer review websites. We know how to approach employer review platforms to present evidence and arguments to swiftly and effectively remove fake and negative reviews.
Pursue Legal Action
Getting a review removed from Glassdoor is not always easy, especially if the review is defamatory. Most platforms like Glassdoor like to remain neutral and do not make judgment calls on whether reviews contain false information that they can not ultimately easily verify. If you have exhausted all your alternatives litigation is typically necessary to get negative reviews removed.
When pursuing litigation involving negative online reviews, there are two common situations:
- When the reviewer’s identity is known, and
- When the reviewer is anonymous.
When the Reviewer’s Identity is Known
If you know who the reviewer is and they were actually an employee of your business, there is a chance you could be facing a contentious lawsuit. Filing an internet defamation lawsuit requires both tact and strategy, so it is crucial to discuss the potential risks, expenses, defenses, and privileges with an experienced lawyer.
This is not something you should tackle on your own. It is imperative to reach out to an experienced internet defamation attorney to advise you on the best course of action and the respective risks and costs of seeking legal action.
Several major factors that may impact the cost of your legal action include:
- Whether you are seeking monetary compensation;
- If the reviewer’s identity is known or unknown;
- Whether a court order is necessary to remove the review(s);
- Number of defamatory reviews on Glassdoor;
- Whether you agree on a flat fee, retainer fee, or contingency fee structure with your lawyer; and
- Whether time is of the essence or not.
When the Reviewer is Anonymous
If you are dealing with a fake or anonymous reviewer, then removing the content will likely be more complicated – requiring you to file a John Doe lawsuit. A John Doe lawsuit is the process by which you can uncover an anonymous poster’s true identity.
Filing a John Doe lawsuit enables you and your attorney to conduct discovery and subpoena internet service providers to determine a reviewer’s identity of the anonymous reviewer. After identifying an anonymous reviewer, most matters typically settle quickly. If not, litigation against the identified employee generally ensues.
When Glassdoor reviewers are anonymous, businesses must carefully consider the best place to file their lawsuit for purposes of jurisdiction, discovery, and relief, as well as defenses that are available or common in a particular jurisdiction.
Additionally, having an attorney who is experienced in dealing with online review sites and Glassdoor is key. Glassdoor staunchly defends its users’ right to anonymity. So it is vitally important for your lawyer to know what common pushback and objections they will encounter, and how to overcome it or you may never get the information you need.
John Doe lawsuits can become extremely complicated and must be done quickly to adequately obtain and preserve necessary IP or other evidence before it is destroyed. Time is of the essence in many cases.
Online Reputation Fact: Online reputation management (ORM) refers to the influencing and controlling of one’s online reputation. Closely tied to public relations, ORM tends to focus on reputation monitoring and repair, as well as damage prevention and recovery. ORM can be a very beneficial service for content that is still newsworthy, has gone viral, is related to a serious crime, or if legal action for content removal will take too long.
Other Best Practices to Remove Glassdoor Reviews
Regardless of the strategy you use, below are a list of some do’s, don’t’s, and other best practices for Glassdoor content removal:
- Do not threaten to sue Glassdoor
One of the most important tips to remember when contacting Glassdoor is to be courteous and friendly. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects platforms like Glassdoor from liability for user-content, so threatening a lawsuit will not get you very far. We go over Section 230 in greater detail in the video below, including the pros and cons of the legislation, why it protects sites like Glassdoor from liability, and significant court cases that have shaped how it is interpreted.
Video: What is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act?
- Do not resort to threatening your employees baselessly to bully them
Not only is this bad business, but threatening employees will also likely backfire. Maintaining a positive online reputation starts with building a value-centered business culture. Glassdoor’s mission is to help people find a job and company they love.
Treating your employees well goes a long way toward making your company a great place to work. Threatening employees will probably not lead to the removal of negative reviews and will most likely only increase the number of negative reviews you are receiving.
This goes hand-in-hand with our last suggestion. Bribes are not a component of value-centric businesses that strive for a wholesome culture. Offering bribes could lead to an increase of negative reviews, or worse – legal sanctions. Pay for play ratings are strictly prohibited by Glassdoor’s policies.
Just as reviewers must comply with Glassdoor’s policies, you will also need to follow their rules when using their website. Violating Glassdoor’s rules could get your employer account terminated and certainly will not help your case if you are requesting removal.
- Do not attempt to generate fake positive reviews or pay for reviews
Generating fake reviews or offering to pay employees for positive reviews is unlawful and legally prohibited under the Federal Trade Commission’s Endorsement Guidelines. Not only could employees publicize the dishonest tactic, but it also violates Glassdoor’s policies.
Generating fake positive reviews in the wake of a negative situation could ultimately trigger a malicious reviewer to ramp up their attacks by leaving more negative reviews or engaging in further behavior that harms your company. Remember, after a user leaves a review, Glassdoor will continue to send them updates every single time a new review is posted.
- Make sure to preserve all relevant evidence if hit with a bad review
As soon as you discover a defamatory or bad review, take a screenshot to preserve the evidence. If you have other evidence that proves how the review is false, work to preserve it as well. If you wind up in a position where you have to pursue legal action, you will need to have supporting documentation readily available.
- Familiarize yourself with informative and helpful Glassdoor resources
Glassdoor provides countless resources for businesses that want to improve their chances of removing negative and fake reviews, such as:
- How to Respond to Negative Glassdoor Reviews;
- Glassdoor Reviews: A Step-by-Step Guide For Employers;
- The Do’s & Don’ts of Asking For Reviews; and
- 5 Essentials for Managing Glassdoor Reviews.
Reputation Management Tip: Content suppression is the act of creating positive content to bury unwanted or negative content from appearing in your search results. The more positive content you have out there about your company, the more it combats negative or defamatory content. To boost your online reputation, you can create a company website and blog. You should also use social media and claim any free business accounts like those offered by Google and Glassdoor.
Work to Prevent Negative & Fake Glassdoor Reviews Before They Happen
If you noticed a trend in our best practice recommendations, it is that your business culture matters. Cultivating a positive culture and consistent branding is essential to the health of any business. This starts with how you treat your employees and customers.
Engage with your employees and provide opportunities for transparency and feedback. Not only will this help prevent a negative employee review, but it could lead to a happier and more productive workforce.
It is also advisable to embrace your online presence. After all, the best defense against negative reviews is a good offense. Be proactive. Keep an updated website, use social media, and take over your free business profiles on Glassdoor and elsewhere. Highlight your company wherever employees are searching for you and publicize favorable reviews on multiple platforms if possible.
If your efforts to remove a negative Glassdoor review are being ignored or you do not feel comfortable handling the situation alone, it is recommended that you speak to an attorney.
Darcy was an absolute joy to work with! She produced results in a very timely manner having a couple dishonest websites and internet searches removed that were posted by a former, very disgruntled employee. She has restored a little peace in our home. Worth every cent! We can’t thank Darcy and Minc, LLC enough.
JWY,Oct 19, 2018
At Minc Law, we have proven success in removing negative reviews from Glassdoor and a host of other websites. We can help you protect your online reputation with a free, no-obligation consultation. Contact our office to learn more.