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Case of interest – negative employment review – Zuru Inc. v Glassdoor Inc. – Employee Rights/ Labour Relations

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A court in the United States has forced the identity of at least
one former employee of Kiwi toy giant, Zuru Incorporated
(Zuru), to be revealed after they posted negative
reviews about working for the company online.1

The decision itself was ultimately concerned with intellectual
property and the privacy of those posting anonymously online, but
it serves a global reminder to employers of the importance of
ongoing and proper communication with employees about workplace
issues. It also raises the question of whether something similar
could happen here in New Zealand.

Without a doubt, negative reviews (authentic or otherwise) can
have a damning impact on employers and their reputation. However,
there are some simple steps that employers can take to maintain a
good relationship with employees, or to ensure that there is no bad
blood with ex-employees. For example:

  • Informal discussions go a long way – while there
    certainly is a time and place for formal processes (particularly
    where conversations may need to be relied on down the line), not
    all situations call for it. For example, if an employee is late to
    work three times in a month, a quick side conversation may be
    enough to nip it in the bud.

  • Keep your lines of communication open to ensure that employees
    feel comfortable to raise issues and create a culture to the same.
    This could be as simple as managers having regular catch ups with
    staff or having an open door policy. It is also particularly
    important to make sure you are visible to staff and not working
    from home too often when everyone else is attending the

  • If an employee has resigned, work with them to decide how it
    will be announced, whether they will work out their notice period
    and whether they would like a farewell with their colleagues. We
    find that these small gestures go a long way in maintaining a good
    relationship as an employee’s role is coming to an end.

  • Offer exit interviews and ask employees who are leaving, why
    they are leaving. Exit interviews should be used to frame your
    thinking as to what might need changing in the future, and not to
    close the door on a future relationship.

  • Seek advice before taking any steps that may impact on
    employees. Every situation is unique and when dealing with employee
    concerns it is important to get it right.

Maintaining a good employment relationship (both during
employment and as it comes to an end) can be difficult, however
these small steps can make a huge difference.

Our employment team are well versed in assisting with workplace
relationship breakdowns, and are on hand to assist in navigating
any issues you may be facing.


1Zuru, Inc. v. Glassdoor, Inc.,
22-mc-80026-AGT (N.D. Cal. Feb. 4, 2022).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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