Posting online has become a norm in this tech savvy world that we live in. For greater transparency in a review, some may choose to post anonymously in fear of ramifications if their name disclosure came about. Just recently, the ability of an employer being able to find out which employee employer-rated an employer unfairly or inaccurately was assessed by the Courts. This is since some would argue that surely the law protects against outrageous false statements that harm an employer’s ability to recruit talent. That is why a California appeals court recently ruled that businesses have to prove online comments are false and financially harmful before they can unmask anonymous critics via subpoenas. It can thus be seen that the decision has First Amendment implications which safeguard people’s right to free speech and this was valued as being the greater consideration.
A suit under the anonymous posting was brought forwards for libel and for violating California law regarding online impersonation. A request was placed for assistance from the courts in an ability to be able to retrieve the identity of the postings. Initially, the trial court turned the employer down and this was again examined by a California Court of Appeal.Subsequently, the lengthy opinion was issued and a conclusion was drawn indicating that to force a disclosure of the names, a plaintiff must state a legally sufficient cause of action comprising of the following elements of that cause of action: (1) the courts determining these issues must ensure that reasonable efforts are made to notify the unknown defendants so they can respond and (2) the plaintiff’s pleading must specifically note the exact statements alleged to constitute defamation. Continue reading