“Right to Yelp” Bill to Protect Consumer Opinions Passes Assembly

April 23, 2018

Assemblyman James Skoufis (D-Woodbury) announced that legislation he authored to prevent companies from including non-disparagement clauses in their contracts has once again passed the Assembly (A.5718-B). The measure aims to strengthen consumer protection and ensure customers are able to voice their opinion on websites like Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor, Google Reviews, and Angie’s List.

“Customers should be able to give their honest opinions about the services and goods they paid for, whether their experience was positive or negative,” Skoufis said. “Companies shouldn’t be able to take that right away by threating legal action – if a company wants a positive review, it should earn it rather than silencing dissatisfied customers.”

The bill would prevent companies from establishing non-disparagement clauses and threatening customers who leave negative reviews on popular rating sites such as Yelp, noted Skoufis. Increasingly, companies are deceptively placing non-disparagement clauses in their contracts and then threaten to sue consumers for libel. Similar legislation has already been enacted in California and Maryland.

Introduced in 2017, Skoufis’ legislation has now passed the Assembly for the second consecutive year. It awaits action in the state Senate.