Do This If a Disguntled Former Employee is Leaving Bad Reviews — Minc Law

Minc Law
12 min readMar 7, 2024

By: Anna Minc, Chief Operating Officer at Minc Law

When a disgruntled former employee is leaving bad reviews about you or your business, it can pose a serious concern for current and future customers and clients. These negative comments, often born from personal grievances or a misunderstanding, can unfairly tarnish a company’s reputation.

If you are facing negative reviews from a disgruntled former employee, it is important to take decisive action to safeguard your company’s online reputation and bottom line. Here are some key steps you should take:

  • Assess if it is worth taking action over the review,
  • Respond privately to the former employee,
  • Preserve evidence of the reviews,
  • Flag and report the reviews to the platform where they are posted, and
  • Publicly respond professionally and factually (if appropriate).

At Minc Law, we have extensive experience helping individuals and businesses impacted by false and damaging allegations — including fake online reviews. We excel at uncovering anonymous reviewers, removing damaging reviews from the internet, and resolving disputes promptly and discreetly, all while ensuring minimal impact on our client’s reputations and operations.

In this article, we will consider the impact of an ex-employee defaming your business and offer practical tips for prevention and resolution. Explore strategies to protect your business reputation and effectively respond to these challenging situations.

The Impact of an Ex-Employee Defaming Your Business

The impact of an ex-employee defaming your business can be far-reaching and damaging. Negative reviews and defamatory statements can erode trust, hurt your reputation, and potentially lead to a loss of clients and revenue.

Common Reasons Why Former Employees Defame Employers

There are many reasons why a former employee might choose to defame an employer. Understanding these underlying motives is the key to preventing and responding to defamation effectively.

Below are several of the most common reasons a former employee may slander your business:

  • Emotional Reactions: The end of employment can trigger intense feelings like anger, disappointment, or a sense of being wronged. In response, some may turn to defamation as a means of expressing these emotions.
  • Feelings of Unfair Treatment: An ex-employee who feels that they were treated unfairly or wrongfully terminated might resort to defamation as a form of retaliation.
  • Managing Their Reputation: When leaving under adverse conditions, an ex-employee might slander their former employer to shape the story surrounding their departure, particularly if they believe it affects their own professional standing.
  • Misunderstandings: Miscommunications can sometimes lead ex-employees to spread incorrect information unintentionally.
  • Diverting Potential Clients: Ex-employees working with rival companies may defame their previous employer to steer potential clients away from them.
  • Highlighting a Former Employer’s Weaknesses: An ex-employee might emphasize the perceived shortcomings of their former employer to boost the status of their current company.

Ways Ex-Employees Defame Employers

Ex-employees have various avenues for spreading defamatory content. Their tactics can range from direct negative reviews to more covert actions. They include:

  • Social Media Channels: Popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are often used to air grievances. The simplicity of posting and the rapid spread of content make social media a preferred method of sharing negative sentiments.
  • Online Reviews and Professional Forums: Sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, along with industry-specific forums, are prime spots for ex-employees to leave damaging comments. These platforms are regularly visited by potential employees and clients and hold considerable sway over an organization’s public image.
  • Engaging with Media: In some cases, particularly those involving prominent companies or significant issues, ex-employees might approach journalists or media channels to publicize their experiences.
  • Anonymous Disclosures: Some may anonymously tip off competitors, watchdog organizations, or regulatory bodies, especially in cases where they suspect illegal or unethical practices.

It is not uncommon for individuals leaving professional practices, such as in medicine or law, to face negative reviews from former colleagues who now view them as competitors. This rivalry can lead to a series of bad reviews aimed at harming the former employer’s professional standing.

The Impact of Bad Reviews on Hiring

Negative reviews, even when baseless, can significantly harm an employer’s brand. A substantial majority of job seekers rely on employee review sites to gather information about a company before deciding to apply for a job. Half of these candidates state they would not consider working for a company with a poor reputation, even if offered a higher salary.

In today’s competitive job market, where recruiting top talent is a critical concern, the influence of negative employee reviews is a huge issue. Bad reviews can severely impact your ability to attract and retain skilled employees.

How to Protect Against Disgruntled Employees Leaving Bad Reviews

Preventative measures and a positive workplace culture are key in shielding your business from negative fallout when employees depart. Creating an environment where employees leave on amicable terms reduces the likelihood of them harboring animosity.

Regardless of your industry, having a clear, fair termination process ensures a smooth transition and minimizes disruption. It can also reduce some of the tension associated with departures.

Equally important is the approach taken during termination. It is about maintaining professionalism and humility, akin to handling a personal relationship. A respectful and dignified exit experience can leave former employees with positive final impressions rather than lingering on any negative aspects of their departure.

Implement Proactive Measures For Feedback During Employment

To reduce the risk of negative reviews from former employees, it is crucial to foster an inclusive and responsive workplace culture. This involves prioritizing employee needs and maintaining open lines of communication, ensuring that you are aware of the overall sentiment within your organization.

Establish a system for ongoing feedback. Allow employees to share their thoughts and opinions regularly, offering anonymous options for those who might feel more comfortable expressing themselves that way.

Conducting formal annual surveys is another effective way to assess employee satisfaction and identify underlying concerns. These surveys can provide valuable insights into areas needing improvement.

Finally, ensuring that employees feel comfortable approaching you or their direct managers with workplace-related issues fosters a sense of trust and openness. This approach helps resolve issues promptly and contributes to a healthier, more transparent organizational culture.

Arrange an Exit Interview With the Employee

Exit interviews provide a valuable opportunity for employees to voice their grievances before they leave your company. Often overlooked by employers, these interviews are instrumental in garnering insights into your operations and identifying areas for improvement.

Have an HR consultant conduct the exit interviews, and they can explore any issues the departing employee may have — offering an impartial platform for open discussion. Current employees may sometimes find it challenging to express their concerns to their manager or HR department often due to fears of potential repercussions.

By arranging an exit interview once an employee has decided to leave, you create a safe space for them to candidly share their experiences and concerns. Addressing these issues can lead to a more positive experience, and when employees leave on good terms, they are less likely to resort to defamatory reviews.

Keep the Matter Private

Maintaining privacy in the context of an employee’s departure can help prevent negative outcomes. Feelings of anger or embarrassment are common following a dismissal, and how management handles these situations can significantly influence the departing employee’s perspective.

It helps to adopt a sensitive approach. For instance, many former employees may prefer to keep the reasons for their departure confidential, particularly from their colleagues. Respecting this desire for privacy can prevent feelings of resentment and reduce the risk of negative reviews.

Have a Preventative Legal Action Plan in Place

A well-structured legal action plan can prevent potential issues arising from the end of employment. When an employee leaves, they carry with them considerable knowledge about your company, including insights into your business practices, coworkers, and clients. If mishandled, this information can lead to significant problems, especially if the employee joins a competitor or has intentions to harm your company.

To safeguard against these risks, many employers incorporate non-disclosure and non-compete clauses into their employment contracts. These agreements can restrict employees from:

  • Contacting current customers or clients,
  • Sharing confidential company information,
  • Discussing financial aspects of the company,
  • Joining a direct competitor, and
  • Making defamatory statements about their former employer or the business.

In some industries, it may be prudent to escort the employee out on the same day to prevent any potential misuse of sensitive information. This practice, however, may not be applicable in all fields.

It is also important to be prepared to enforce non-compete or non-disclosure agreements to ensure their effectiveness.

Initial Steps Employers Should Take After Discovering a Disgruntled Former Employee is Leaving Bad Reviews

If you discover that a disgruntled former employee is leaving bad reviews, there are some immediate actions you should take. These initial measures can shape the trajectory of the situation, offering a chance to resolve the issue without escalation while also ensuring your bases are covered.

Assess If It is Worth Taking Action Over

First, it is essential to determine if the review has merit and whether it highlights genuine issues within your organization. If the negative review raises valid concerns, it is important to conduct an internal investigation to uncover the underlying issues.

Here are some best practices for this process:

  • Use your company’s existing grievance policy to guide your investigation.
  • Ensure the investigation is led by someone neutral and unbiased. It may be beneficial to hire an external HR specialist or employment lawyer.
  • Consult with HR or legal experts, especially if the allegations involve ethical or legal violations.

If the review’s claims are substantiated, your response should be well-informed and demonstrate the steps being taken to address and rectify the issue. This approach may also help your organization avoid legal exposure.

If the review is baseless, then it might be appropriate to consider other actions, like removing the review. However, it is important to weigh the potential consequences of any response. Engaging directly with the former employee or taking aggressive legal actions might inadvertently escalate the situation. Sometimes not responding can be a strategic choice. Over time, the ex-employee may move on, reducing the likelihood of further negative activity.

For medical and legal professionals, certain confidentiality obligations must be kept in mind when determining whether to respond to a review. Please see our comprehensive guides ‘ How Medical Providers Can Respond to Negative Patient Reviews’ and ‘ What to Do If Your Law Firm Receives a Fake Online Review ‘.

Respond Privately

In many cases, the former employee simply wants to feel heard or acknowledged. A private response can demonstrate that their concerns are being taken seriously without escalating the situation publicly.

When considering a response, it is important to remember any confidentiality obligations. For medical professionals, HIPAA regulations impose strict limits on what can be disclosed. Similarly, legal professionals must adhere to their confidentiality rules.

For further reading, please see our comprehensive guides explaining how doctors can respond to medical reviews.

Preserve Evidence of the Reviews

As soon as you discover a negative review, it is crucial to preserve evidence of the review. If the matter escalates, the review can serve as vital evidence if you have to report the incident or pursue legal action.

Here are some guidelines for preserving evidence effectively:

  • Screenshot the Reviews: Capture the entire review, including the date, time, and any responses.
  • Keep a Record of Any Impact: Document any tangible effects the review may have had on your business, such as lost clients, decreased income, or a drop in new inquiries.

Flag & Report the Reviews to the Platform

If you encounter a review that is fake or inaccurate, you can flag it and report it to the platform where it was posted. Most online platforms have specific terms of service (ToS) that prohibit false or defamatory content. Reporting a review for violating a platform’s ToS can lead to its removal.

Here is how to approach this:

  1. Review the Platform’s Policies: Before reporting, familiarize yourself with the platform’s guidelines on reviews. Understanding these policies will help you make a stronger case for why the review violates the platform’s ToS.
  2. Use the Platform’s Reporting Feature: Most platforms provide a way to report or flag content directly on their site.
  3. Provide Specifics: When reporting, be as detailed as possible. Point out the specific aspects of the review that are false or defamatory and explain how they violate the platform’s ToS.

Publicly Respond Professionally & Factually

Deciding whether to respond publicly to a negative review requires careful consideration, especially if the review is defamatory. Public responses should be considered a last resort, typically reserved for situations where the review is exceptionally damaging or when all other avenues of resolution have been exhausted. The necessity of a public response also varies depending on the nature of your business, such as whether you are dealing with a PR crisis, are a well-known brand, or operate in a highly-reviewed industry.

It is important to be aware that responding can inadvertently increase the review’s visibility and potentially attract more negative feedback. If a response is necessary, it should be professional and factual, and avoid emotional or defensive language.

If you are attempting to have the review removed because it is fake or defamatory, it is advisable to wait until these efforts are complete before responding publicly.

For further information, please see our comprehensive guide explaining how to respond to bad reviews.

Strategies to Deal With Bad Reviews by a Disgruntled Former Employee

If efforts to remove a bad review are unsuccessful, it may be necessary to explore alternative strategies.

Implement a Review Collection Process For Departing Employees

Create a review collection process specifically for departing employees. The process starts with structured exit interviews, which serve as a platform for employees to share honest feedback about their experiences with the company.

Following these interviews, encourage employees to share their experiences by leaving a review on relevant job site platforms. It is important to approach this suggestion respectfully, honoring their autonomy and privacy.

Finally, ensure you are regularly analyzing the feedback received. This ongoing evaluation helps identify areas where the company can improve and reduce the likelihood of negative reviews in the future.

Cease & Desist Letters

One of the first steps you can consider is a cease and desist or retraction demand letter. This is especially important if your jurisdiction requires a letter as a prerequisite to filing a defamation lawsuit.

These letters serve as a formal demand for the ex-employee to stop their defamatory behavior. They put them on notice that failing to stop what they are doing and remove any published content could result in further legal action.

This acts not only as a warning but also as a documented attempt to resolve the issue before proceeding to more serious legal measures.

Monitor Review Platforms

Monitoring review platforms is a critical aspect of managing your company’s online reputation. Be sure to maintain a presence on popular review sites, such as Glassdoor, Indeed, and CareerBliss. Platforms like Google Reviews and Facebook Business are also becoming popular places for former employees to express their opinions about workplaces.

However, these platforms are just the beginning. Your company could be discussed in various online forums, news articles, blogs, and even within comment sections. To stay informed, set up Google Alerts for your company’s name. This tool notifies you when your company is mentioned online, enabling you to track and respond to mentions promptly.

Utilize Online Reputation Management Strategies

Online reputation management (ORM) can be a useful way to address fake or negative reviews. ORM services typically involve regular monitoring across various platforms, positive engagement, content creation, and SEO strategies.

Pursue Legal Action If the Review Crosses into Defamation

If a negative review crosses the line into defamation, you may have to take legal action. Defamation involves making false statements that harm someone’s reputation.

Aside from defamation, you may have other legal claims such as:

It is important to consult with an experienced defamation lawyer to determine the viability of your case, the potential for success, and specific requirements in your jurisdiction. You will also need to preserve and collect evidence proving the falseness of the claim and the damage it has caused your business.

“Attorney Dorrian Horsey at Minc Law represented me in a content removal effort and was successful. She was very open with me about the process, and helped me understand the approach that she took. She was great to work with and very supportive of my effort. Thank you!”

Steven S.

August 11, 2023

To explore your legal options to combat fake and malicious reviews by a disgruntled employee, reach out to schedule your initial consultation by calling us at (216) 373–7706 or filling out our online contact form.

Originally published at on March 7, 2024.



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