Slanderous yelp review affecting my career

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Slanderous yelp review affecting my career

I work in property mgmt and someone used my full name in a yelp review and accused me of using drugs on my property with other residents which is completely false. They also mention LGBT and I am openly gay but it should still not be on a public forum. I am afraid this will affect my career and I have been so stressed out that my current employer might want to get rid of me over this even though it is not true. The review was from someone who only has one review so clearly a fake account. Yelp was asked twice to remove it but they said it is within their guidelines so they won’t remove it.

Asked on February 12, 2019 under Personal Injury, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, federal law protects Yelp or any other site like them which doesn't generate the content but merely hosts content created by other people: Yelp has no obligations about a bad review and no liability for it. You could theoretically file a defamaton lawsuit against a fictitious person--a "John Doe"--then in that lawsuit, issue a subpoena to Yelp to more information about the poster; then if you can identify that person, you could then change the "John Doe" in the lawsuit to their name and sue them personally for defamation, for compensation and/or to force them to take the review down. As you can tell, that is a great deal of effort, but is likely your only recourse.
The false drug allegation would be defamation, because it both factually untrue and something which is a negative; outing you as LGBT is not defamation, because it is true (true facts are not defamation) and because it is not negative to be LGBT.

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