New Zealand court ruling discourages employees from speaking up

Toy company Zuru plans to sue former employees who anonymously wrote scathing online reviews of the company.
By: | July 25, 2022

Zuru has won a court case in the US to force the American review website Glassdoor to reveal the identities of the anonymous reviewers. 

In the decision released this month, magistrate judge Alex Tse said a former employee, or more than one, left six scathing reviews that made Zuru “sound like a horrible place to work”.

Zuru, founded by well-known entrepreneurs Nick and Mat Mowbray, intends to sue the reviewers, who worked in New Zealand, for defamation. 

“Zuru says these and similar statements in the reviews are false, and the company wants to sue the reviewers for defamation in New Zealand, the country where Zuru was founded and where the reviewers worked. First, Zuru must determine who wrote the reviews,” the judge said.

Glassdoor is an American website where current and former employees anonymously review companies.  In a statement, Glassdoor said it was deeply disappointed in the court’s decision to quash its bid to overturn the decision. 

“We note that, contrary to Zuru’s contentions, the unflattering workplace experience reviews describing working at Zuru were authored by multiple former Zuru employees.”

Glassdoor said they “fight vigorously to protect and defend the rights of its users to share their opinions and speak freely and authentically about their workplace experiences, without fear of intimidation or retaliation”. 

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The company said it had succeeded in protecting the anonymity of its users in more than 100 cases and would not say if it would appeal the recent decision, according to RNZ.