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Glassdoor ordered to reveal the identity of negative reviews to the New Zealand toymaker |  New Zealand

A California court has ordered employer review site Glassdoor to release the identities of users who claimed they had negative experiences working for New Zealand toy giant Zuru.

In a decision that could cause unease for online platforms that rely on anonymity to attract candid reviews, Glassdoor was ordered to provide the information so that Zuru could file defamation suits against critics in Nova Scotia. Zeeland.

Glassdoor is an international website where people post anonymous reviews of their current or former employers. Zuru is an international toy manufacturer founded in New Zealand and today has a turnover of one billion dollars.

After an anonymous person or persons wrote reviews alleging that Zuru was a “toxic” workplace, the company began to take defamation action against them – but first had to find out their identity.

California District Court Judge Alex Tse wrote in his ruling that critics call Zuru “[b]ballot box out factory” with a “toxic culture”, where an “incompetent” management team “constantly talks[s] down” to employees and treats them like “dirt”.

Judge wrote that the critics make Zuru “a terrible place to work”.

Zuru says these and similar statements in the reviews are false and have cost them financially.

The company argued that it “had to devote money, time and resources to combating the negative publicity, negative perception and damage to [Zuru’s] reputation as the [r]eviews have caused”,

She wants to sue the reviewers for defamation in New Zealand, the country where the company was founded and where the reviewer or reviewers allegedly worked.

Tse ruled that New Zealand defamation laws were the relevant laws in this case and ordered Glassdoor to hand over identifying information to him.

New Zealand has stricter defamation laws than the United States, where free speech is much more protected.

Tse wrote, “There are good reasons to exercise caution in applying American principles of free speech abroad. Our country’s commitment to free speech is not universally shared; and even in other countries that protect free speech, a different balance is often struck between the right to free speech and the right to protect one’s reputation.

“Glassdoor wishes to protect anonymity on its website. Zuru wants to protect his reputation. The two interests cannot be reconciled simultaneously.

Many online entities – including giants like Yelp, Google and Reddit – rely on anonymized reviews from businesses as a central part of their model.

When asked if the prospect of a trial would be enough to discourage people from posting anonymous reviews, Wellington media lawyer Steven Price said it was unlikely.

He said the cost of defamation suits was often high for businesses or individuals – and some would be put off by the prospect of drawing further attention to defamatory comments.

Zuru did not respond to a request for comment, but in a statement provided to Businessdesk, a spokesperson said the company agreed with the court’s decision.

“These proceedings began after a series of fake reviews were publicly posted on Glassdoor. We’re glad this spam has now been removed,” she said. other regarding ongoing litigation.”

On its website, the company states that “the owners of Zuru greatly value each of our employees, as much as they give to their own families…with whom they do business.”

Glassdoor released a statement saying it was “deeply disappointed with the court’s decision, which was effectively made under New Zealand law.”

“In this case and in many others around the world, Glassdoor is fighting vigorously to protect and defend the rights of our users to share their opinions and speak freely and truthfully about their workplace experiences.”

Glassdoor said it has fought a number of defamation-type cases, and they “prevail in the vast majority of these types of cases.”

“To date, we have successfully protected our users’ anonymity in over 100 cases filed against our users,” he said. Glassdoor did not respond to questions about whether it intended to appeal or whether it had disclosed the identities of the affected reviewers.

The judge ruled that Glassdoor did not need to identify the number of people who viewed or participated in the reviews, which he argued he could not do without an excessive charge and expense.

theguardian Gt

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