LAW WEEK COLORADO
Online reviews can give consumers an opportunity to voice their opinions of businesses. But when a business feels those reviews are damaging or false, they can become legal issues.
In October, Mariah Markus, a student at Train. Fight. Win., a Denver martial arts gym, received a cease and desist letter for posting an online review of the gym. In her review, she complained about what she perceived as sexual harassment, racism and an unsafe environment — citing an injury she received while training with another student.
Rather than fighting back, Markus avoided a lawsuit and settled with the gym, agreeing not to post any further reviews about it online. From her perspective, she was voicing her complaints about the gym just as anyone would complain about the cleanliness of a restaurant.
Where Markus’ review differed, however, was in making claims that the gym owners, Mike and LA Jennings, said questioned their business ethics and raised legal issues regarding their business practices. Those claims of discrimination and safety could have harmed their business or escalated into legal claims.