Does Writing Negative Reviews on Yelp Set You Up For Potential Lawsuits?

Back in July of this year, a Yelp user by the name of “Joe B” wrote a negative review of Grissom & Thompson, a firm that represented him in a breach of contract suit. He alleged that the firm called him “incompetent” and attempted to harm him when he didn’t pay his $4,000 fee. The firm has since counter-sued him for slander and has denied all allegations, stating that they don’t care about the money, only their reputation.

We all know that we are entitled to our First Amendment rights, but where does one draw the line?

As a general consensus, we want to feel like we can share our opinion without being faulted for it. Further, many may feel like they want to warn others of a business’s shady business practices without having to worry about potentially being attacked either verbally or worse, physically, by that company.

Joe B. Yelp Review of Grissom & ThompsonEveryone has a right to their own opinion as well as the right to protect themselves from defamation and their overall reputation.

With all these frivolous lawsuits, it’s hard to imagine that these are adults we are talking about here when all of it seems like a scene straight out of “Mean Girls”.

So what is the takeaway from all of this? Make sure that when reviewing a company that what you are saying is true. While a company may attempt to sue you for this, it’s unlikely they will actually will win the lawsuit. Plus, consumers in California are now protected against penalties for sharing their opinions via online reviews under a new bill (AB 2365) signed on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 by Gov. Jerry Brown. The Consumer Review Freedom Act (CRFA) aims to do the same on a Federal level, but has not yet been passed.

As a business owner, make sure that you are providing the utmost customer service experience to keep people from writing negative reviews about you in the first place. And if you come across someone who you feel is slandering you or your business, do your best to try to resolve the issue out of court first. If you cannot come to a resolution, do not, under any circumstance, resort to violence on that individual. You can bring in a 3rd party to act as a mediator and if that still does not work, then you can go the court route.

Do you have any tips for reviewers or business owners on this topic? Let us know in the comments below!

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