Glassdoor is in the news. The site where people can post anonymous reviews of their employers lost its fight to stop a subpoena that would require it to reveal to the government certain reviewers' contact information.
The company had argued that compliance would violate privacy and anonymous speech rights, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit shot that down.
Depending on how you look at it, Glassdoor is a safety valve for disgruntled current employees and ex-employees to honestly vent their anger, or it's a way for people to smear companies without fear of repercussions.
Take our first poll about anonymous reviewing on Glassdoor:
For companies whose pages of reviews are mostly negative, Glassdoor has proven a thorn in their PR side, prompting fears of a tarnished company image and difficulties in recruiting.
To solve that, some companies HR departments try to ‘hack’ Glassdoor by asking all current employees to go on to the site and post positive reviews about the company.
It's true: A former employer of mine did that.
But… that’s not the problem. The problem is that contractors for a health care firm that is under investigation for fraud accused the firm of behaving unethically in its business with the VA, in their reviews on Glassdoor.
The government apparently wants their contact information to find out what the reviewers know as it investigates the firm. It had originally wanted the names of 125 reviewers of the firm but narrowed it down to the eight whose reviews mentioned illegal or unethical behavior occurring at the firm.
Glassdoor refused to give up information on the reviewers. So the government went to court -- and won.
The company appealed. Our fellow ALM publication, The Recorder, reported that Glassdoor’s legal team “argued that complying with the subpoena would violate its users’ First Amendment rights to anonymous free speech and to associate privately with a group, a concept known as ‘associational privacy.’”
But the panel of judges that upheld the subpoena against Glassdoor didn’t buy the associational privacy argument, saying it applies to groups of people with common views and goals, “not people who happen to use a common platform to anonymously express their individual views,” the Recorder quoted Judge Richard Tallman’s opinion.
Will this ruling cause people to second-guess posting negative things about their employers, even if posted anonymously?
Or is it worth it to help the government fight corruption and fraud?
Take this poll and let us know what you think.