Reviews on the Internet forum Yelp can be very important for businesses on Long Island. When customers share their opinions and star ratings, the Yelp reviews can have a profound influence on potential new ones. In early 2016, Yelp received a review of its own when a disgruntled customer service agent wrote an open letter to the company's CEO and posted it online.
The 25-year-old Yelp employee posted her letter online in mid-February, and she was fired just two hours later. In the letter, the woman complains about how much Yelp pays her and the hours that she is required to work. Though Yelp has stated that the letter was 'an important example of free speech," the company claims that the employee violated its terms of conduct.
The decision that Yelp made to fire its employee after she posted a negative letter online raises some important questions about employment law. Under the National Labor Relations Act, employees are protected from retaliation for discussing their employment conditions and expressing criticism of the company, supervisor or management. In a 2015 report, the NLRB Office of General Counsel expressed concern about employer policies, saying that some employer policies may violate employees' NLRA rights.
If an employee was fired or demoted for voicing criticism about an employment condition and the statement was part of a collective complaint, this could be a violation of the NLRA. In such an event, an employment law attorney could assist in pursuing a wrongful termination lawsuit on the terminated client's behalf seeking reimbursement of lost wages and reinstatement to the former position.