Glassdoor has become one of the most popular websites for employees to leave anonymous reviews about their companies. With over 67 million reviews for over 1 million companies worldwide, Glassdoor offers unique insights into work cultures, salaries, benefits, management styles, and more.
But are the reviews anonymous? Can your employer find out it was you who left that scathing review? Here’s what you need to know about protecting your identity on Glassdoor.
How Anonymous Reviews Work on Glassdoor
Glassdoor states that they allow employees to share anonymous reviews, salaries and interview insights to help job seekers find the best opportunities and companies. When you create an account on Glassdoor, your identity remains hidden.
Glassdoor removes personal details like your name, email address, social media accounts, phone number, resume or other identifying information before publicly displaying your content. They also use technology to analyze reviews and remove any details that could unintentionally identify you.
To further protect anonymity, Glassdoor only displays an approximate location like the nearest large city. For companies with fewer employees, they may only show a broader region to prevent exposing your identity based on office location.
You Control What Personal Details Are Visible
When you create a Glassdoor account, you choose what information is visible on your public profile such as:
- Profile photo
- Job title and industry
- Location (city and state only)
- Number of ratings and reviews contributed
You can choose to display just some or none of this information if you want to remain completely anonymous. Glassdoor does not share your email address or any other personal details.
Tips for Remaining Anonymous in Your Reviews
While Glassdoor takes measures to protect your anonymity, there are extra precautions you can take when writing reviews:
Avoid Identifying Details About Your Job
Don’t share your exact job title, department, office location or names of colleagues and managers. Stick to more general titles and descriptions of your role.
Watch Your Tone and Writing Style
The way you express yourself could inadvertently identify you. Don’t use company or department specific jargon, abbreviations or acronyms that would reveal where you work.
Mix Up Positive and Negative Reviews
Only leaving negative reviews about your company could single you out. Offset any critiques with some positive feedback so it’s not obvious the reviews all come from one disgruntled employee.
Space Out Your Reviews
Posting multiple reviews on the same day or week could allow someone to connect the dots. Spread out your reviews over several weeks or months to avoid revealing a pattern.
Use a VPN or Public Computer
Using a virtual private network (VPN) hides your IP address and location. Alternatively, post reviews from a public computer at the library or internet cafe. This obscures your identity and makes it virtually impossible to trace the review back to you.
Can Companies Identify Anonymous Reviewers?
While Glassdoor promises anonymity, there have been rare cases where employers have attempted to identify and retaliate against staff who post negative reviews:
|Cornell University||Reportedly warned staff against anonymous reviews and said they would treat them as “unprotected speech” in 2018.|
|Tesla||Sued an engineer in 2019, claiming he was wrongfully terminated after posting a negative Glassdoor review. Tesla tried to force him to reveal his account.|
|Cincinnati Health System||Traced an employee’s computer IP address to identify them after a negative review, claiming they violated social media policy.|
However, these cases are rare exceptions. Overall, Glassdoor stands behind their anonymity protections. If an employer pressures you to reveal if you left a review, Glassdoor recommends immediately notifying them. Their legal team will work to protect your confidentiality.
It’s highly unlikely a company could legally compel Glassdoor to disclose confidential reviewer identities. Attempts to uncover anonymous reviewers may also constitute retaliation or violate labor laws protecting free speech.
What Legal Protections Exist for Anonymous Reviews?
In most countries, your freedom of speech allows you to leave anonymous reviews about employers without legal repercussions. Specific laws include:
- The National Labor Relations Act protects employees discussing working conditions, even on social media. It’s illegal for employers to retaliate.
- The Communications Decency Act offers immunity for websites hosting third-party content like reviews. Companies can’t force Glassdoor to reveal identities.
- Several states have laws prohibiting companies from asking for social media passwords or threatening retaliation over reviews.
- The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) limits the data companies collect on individuals without consent. Employers likely can’t legally trace Glassdoor reviews.
- Many European countries have constitutional free speech protections that allow citizens to freely critique employers without censorship.
- Provincial labor codes prevent retaliation over reviews and restrict how companies can monitor employees’ online activity.
- The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) limits what personal data companies can collect without consent.
How to Decide If Leaving a Review Is Worth the Risk
Anonymous reviews offer a valuable way for employees to discuss company cultures and policies. But in rare cases, overly negative reviews could risk your job if an employer obtains your IP address or pressures you to remove your review.
Before posting, weigh the risks and benefits:
- How likely is it your company could trace the review back to you? Larger companies will have a harder time identifying anonymous reviewers compared to smaller workplaces.
- Do you have legal protections based on your location? Laws in the US, Canada, EU and elsewhere protect freedom of speech over employer reviews.
- Is the company ethically run? Unethical managers may be more likely to illegally retaliate, while ethical leadership respects anonymity.
- How badly do you need the job? Posting negative reviews likely holds more risks for employees who can’t afford to lose their job.
With reasonable precautions, most employees can safely leave anonymous Glassdoor reviews without career repercussions or legal issues. Just be strategic in what details you share, use a VPN and know your rights.
Glassdoor provides a platform for transparent workplace insights, but you must decide what’s best for your circumstances. If in doubt, keep reviews constructive, not overly personal and avoid posting anything you wouldn’t say publicly. That allows you to share your opinion without jeopardizing your professional reputation.
Key Takeaways: Protecting Anonymity on Glassdoor
- Glassdoor removes personal details and obscures locations to protect anonymity, but additional precautions help avoid identification.
- Companies have occasionally tried to uncover anonymous reviewers, but Glassdoor defends confidentiality and most cases are illegal retaliation.
- Laws in the US, Canada, EU and many other countries protect freedom of speech over employer reviews.
- Weigh legal protections and company culture against job risks before posting negative reviews that could threaten employment.
- With reasonable anonymity measures, Glassdoor provides a secure way for employees to share transparent workplace insights.