Labor & Employment Law

Founder of Boss Rating Website Doesn’t Fear Lawsuits

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Considering changing jobs? A website called eBossWatch suggests checking there first to make sure you don’t end up working for a bad boss.

Go to “Rate My Boss” on the website and search to see how other anonymous employees have rated your potential supervisor. Or try searching the site’s registry of people accused of workplace sexual harassment to see if your would-be employer made the list. A more extensive “boss background check” is available for $19.95.

“Nobody should have to work with a jerk,” eBossWatch advises.

But one lawyer who represents employers in workplace disputes has some concerns. Writing at the Connecticut Employment Law Blog, lawyer Daniel Schwartz of Pullman & Comley in Hartford, Conn., noted that one man was on the eBoss sexual harassment registry even though a jury had found his company not liable for sexual harassment.

The website revised its information after Schwartz’s blog post. But in a new post at the Connecticut Employment Law Blog, Schwartz questions whether eBossWatch is more of a moneymaker for its founder than a legitimate research tool. The registry “is nothing more that a meager list of some people accused of sexual harassment with no real attempt at completeness, fairness or accuracy,” he alleges.

Our own search of the boss rating service turned up one woman had been labeled a “f—ing dyke” by an anonymous person who apparently typed the phrase into the name field and gave her the worst possible rating. (The site removed the comment after we noted it.)

The founder of eBossWatch is Asher Adelman, who formerly held marketing and operations management positions with high-tech companies. He says he started the website after working for a “toxic boss.”

Adelman answered our questions in an e-mail exchange. We’ve shortened and edited the Q-and-A.

ABA Journal: One of my editors suggested that eBossWatch is a little like Do you see any similarity? In one lawsuit, claimed the Communications Decency Act offered protection from a libel claim. Does the same law protect your website from libel lawsuits?

Adelman: I think the main difference between eBossWatch and is that eBossWatch does not allow free text comments in the “boss review” forms. Our boss reviews consist solely of a number of opinion statements that the reviewer can either agree or disagree with, so we are able to avoid libel issues while providing our users with an effective resource. Since statements of opinion cannot by definition be considered libelous, we are not worried about libel lawsuits.

ABA Journal: Have any suits been filed against you by people who are unhappy because they were rated as bad bosses or listed on the harassment registry?

Adelman: We have been threatened with lawsuits a number of times, but nobody has filed suit against eBossWatch. I imagine that their attorneys had advised them that it is not worthwhile for them to file since they have no case.

ABA Journal: What is your reaction to the criticism at the Connecticut Employment Law Blog.?

Adelman: I’m a bit confused about what the blogger claims isn’t “fair” about the National Sexual Harassment Registry. We have received a lot of positive feedback and support from people who are very excited that we created a resource that can be easily referenced.

The one point in the blogger’s posts that I would agree with is that the registry is not complete. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alone receives more than 10,000 sexual harassment complaints each year, so we will have our hands full in the next few months while we research and update the registry with previous and current sexual harassment cases.

ABA Journal: How do you compile the information for the sex harassment registry? Is there any kind of systematic search of court cases done on a regular basis? Or do you rely on readers for tips?

Adelman: We compile the information for the registry mainly by researching public court records and news media reports. In addition, we offer readers the opportunity to send us tips to research and consider for inclusion in the registry.

ABA Journal: Have you heard from any people who avoided bad bosses because of your website?

Adelman: We have heard from countless people, many of whom have worked for abusive bosses, who are extremely supportive of eBossWatch.

I remember one person who wrote to us about a year ago. He told me that he heard about eBossWatch while interviewing for a job, and searched for the hiring manager to see if he had been rated. After he didn’t find any ratings on his potential manager on eBossWatch, he decided to search for the manager on Google, and he discovered that this boss had been arrested for indecent exposure a few years ago. Needless to say, this job-seeker didn’t pursue that position any further.

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