Can a gym contract preventing members from leaving bad reviews or posts?

UPDATED: Jun 26, 2019

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Can a gym contract preventing members from leaving bad reviews or posts?

I joined a gym without going over all the details in the contract. It turns out that it’s a pretty crooked operation in my opinion. However, there is a clause in the contract stating that we cannot leave any bad reviews or posts. There is a fee of 3500 if we do. Is that legal? It seems like freedom of speech would supersede the contract?

Asked on June 26, 2019 under Business Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is legal and freedom of speech does not apply: freedome of speech or the 1st Amendment only applies against the government (i.e. the government cannot limit speech) but does not apply to private businesses. A private business and its customers can contract that the customer shall not disparage (leave bad reivews or posts or "bad mouth") the business, and if you signed a contract with such a clause, it is enforceable against you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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