Does that Glassdoor review contain confidential information about your company?

Glassdoor is the go-to website for current and former employees to share their thoughts on what it is like to work for a particular company. Often, it is the place for disgruntled workers to anonymously air their grievances. Companies can take various measures to combat these negative reviews, but what if the review goes beyond standard negativity and posts confidential information, trade secrets, or other sensitive information?

A recent case from California addressed this issue. Software company MZ claimed that an anonymous Glassdoor reviewer posted confidential information in violation of a non-disclosure agreement. MZ demanded that Glassdoor reveal the identity of the reviewer. In response, Glassdoor refused to identify the anonymous user but apparently removed the review from its website.

The court sided with Glassdoor. Its decision emphasized the importance of protecting the anonymous reviewer’s first amendment rights. Thus, the court reasoned that MZ could not discover the anonymous reviewer’s identity unless it made a threshold showing that the review contained confidential information in violation of the nondisclosure agreement. MZ could not meet this burden because the information revealed was either public or simply not true. Thus, the court held Glassdoor was not required to reveal the identity of the anonymous employee.

Takeaway: If an online reviewer posts trade secrets or confidential information subject to a nondisclosure agreement, procedures generally exist to have that information removed. However, be prepared to identify why that information is a trade secret or why it violates a nondisclosure agreement. This step requires caution. Although businesses need to establish that the information at issue is entitled to protection, they need to ensure they don’t disclose too much information in the process.

Written by Robert T. Denny