since YELP.com has listed my business in their listing I have seen several reviews against my business which they are slander and for defaming my business I am suspicious some of them are fake and there is a chance some of competitors are making those statements.
what is the best legal approach to either ask this site to remove these reviews or simply delete my company name from their listings
Unfortunately, neither of the approaches you suggest will be effective. Your only viable avenues for relief would be to legally pursue the persons/entities who libeled your business, assuming they did in fact commit defamation, you know who they are and the reviews are causing you sufficient harm to warrant the often substantial expense of civil litigation. If you don't know who they are, it might be possible to force Yelp to identify them, however you will not be able to hold Yelp liable or force Yelp to remove the reviews or delete your company name from their listings. The only way to compel removal of a defamatory post is by way of a petition for injunctive relief in a court of competent jurisdiction.
This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is not to be relied upon as legal advice or applied to specific situations. Legal advice is provided only upon execution of a written retainer agreement and after a comprehensive consultation in which all relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.
Administrative Law Lawyer
I disagree with Mr. Adli's response.
There is, of course, no possibility that Yelp or similar sites will let you simply opt out of the public discourse about your business. But Yelp and similar sites have adopted very specific and explicit "Content Guidelines." If the CG's are violated by any review of your business, you have only to make your case persuasively and the site administrators will remove it. I have accomplished this for any number of CA licensed professionals and businesses (I accept ONLY State licensed businesses and professional services providers for this legal service) so I am speaking from first-hand experience here.
I can tell you without reservation that the evaluation of any review by the site against the CG's is objective, fair, impartial and consistent. The site is deeply invested in the efficacy and integrity of the CG's -- and only that. It is not invested in your business, nor in having as many reviews as possible, or any other secondary consequences. The CG's are the value to be protected by site administrators and their focus is singular.
The site is completely unresponsive to any threats or demands about defamation. The site does not care if some of the reviews of your business are wrong. The site believes that the erroneous reviews and posts will be outweighed by the consistency and quantity of the other reviews. The site is not invested in vouching for the accuracy or legitimacy of every review, but only in providing a process where the numbers will tell the tale.
If you have evidence that a fake review is planted by a competitor, present your evidence to site administrators. You will get a clinically fair if ruthless evaluation of your claim. Of course, there has to be evidence -- not just your hunch or suspicions.
Of course you can sue any reviewer, but be prepared for a lot of unexpected consequences. California has a robust anti-SLAPP statutory scheme and, if your claim is not sound, you are likely to wind up with a court order requiring that you pay the other party's considerable legal fees as well as your own. It can take more than a year just to resolve the anti-SLAPP issues -- a very expensive and very long year plus. In the meantime, the disputed review stays up on the site.
Remember that opinions -- even wrong ones; even opinions that are not clearly identified as opinion -- are not actionable as defamation.
No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.
I do not see Ms. McCall’s approach as viable since it does not sound like you have evidence that would prompt Avvo to take down any reviews. As you indicated, at this point you only “suspect” or feel that “there is a chance” that one or more reviews might be fake or submitted by competitors. Accordingly, I would second my colleague Mr. Adli’s response and suggested approach.