HR · 14 December 2018

Can you dismiss an employee for posting a negative company review?

negative reviews
Dismissing an employee for making valid claims is unlikely to be well received by the rest of the workforce

Company reviews left on websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed can be a great way for your organisation to build a positive reputation and help in efforts to recruit new talent. However, there is always the risk that staff may leave negative reviews on these websites, which can have a different impact altogether.

Whether you can dismiss an employee for posting a negative company review will depend on a number of determining factors. One such factor would be whether or not there is a workplace policy in place which regulates employees’ activity online.

These policies typically prohibit staff from making defamatory comments that compromise the company or damage its reputation, as well as disclosing sensitive or confidential data. Individuals that are found to breach these guidelines should be subject to the company’s disciplinary procedure, which depending on the circumstances could reasonably result in dismissal.

Gather evidence

However, before making a decision on dismissing an employee for posting a negative review you should complete a thorough investigation. It is important to gather sufficient evidence of any alleged remarks, which should be easy to locate if the review was posted on social media. However, if the review was posted on Glassdoor or a similar website, it is likely to be anonymous and therefore difficult to attribute to one particular employee.

Prior to taking action, you should also consider the legitimacy of the review and ask yourself: are the claims unfounded, or do they carry a semblance of truth? You should also consider how a negative review may be a good way to uncover any underlying issues within the organisation that may be troubling, affording you an opportunity to address these and improve employee relations.

Allegations

If the review specifically references issues such as bullying or harassment then you must look into this further, as doing so will be expected by an employment tribunal should the employee in question end up making a claim for constructive unfair dismissal. To cover all bases, an informal meeting should be held in which staff are reminded to make use of the company’s grievance reporting procedure if they are experiencing any problems at work.

Ultimately if a negative review is untruthful and brings the company into disrepute it would be possible to dismiss the employee, providing the source of the review is clear and that it does not allude to any activities that could be covered by whistleblowing.

On the other hand, it is worth understanding that dismissing an employee for making a valid claim about the business, without making an effort to improve the situation, is unlikely to be well received by the rest of the workforce and could instead exacerbate any pre-existing feelings of discontent.

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.


 
TAGS:

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Kate Palmer CIPD is the head of advisory at law firm Peninsula and is a member of its senior leadership team. She joined in 2009 having held a senior HR manager's role in another large company. With a specialist background in facilities management in the NHS, Kate offers a wealth of employment law experience. She's an expert negotiator - one notable case was with the NHS's trade unions over terms and conditions in the Agenda for Change pay system.

Finance