Los Angeles, CA asked in Consumer Law for California

Q: Can the owner of a business (laundry) deny me service because I posted a negative comment on Google maps ?

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4 Lawyer Answers
Leon Bayer
Leon Bayer
Answered
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Long Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Sorry. It is perfectly legal to deny you service based on your negative review.

James L. Arrasmith
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Answered
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, private businesses have the right to refuse service to customers, but only under certain circumstances. Denying service based on a negative review could potentially be seen as retaliation, which is not a valid reason for refusal of service under California law.

According to the Unruh Civil Rights Act (California Civil Code Section 51), businesses cannot discriminate against customers based on specific protected characteristics, such as race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or medical condition. Posting a negative review online is not one of these protected categories.

However, if the business owner can demonstrate that your behavior was disruptive, threatening, or otherwise interfered with their ability to conduct business, they might have grounds to refuse service. They would need to apply this standard consistently to all customers, not just those who have left negative reviews.

If you believe you have been wrongfully denied service in retaliation for a negative review, you can file a complaint with the California Department of Consumer Affairs or consider seeking legal advice from an attorney specializing in consumer protection law.

In summary, while businesses in California generally have the right to refuse service, denying service solely based on a negative online review could be seen as retaliation and might not be considered a valid reason under the law.

Scott Richard Kaufman
Scott Richard Kaufman
Answered
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Los Altos, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I think a hybrid of both answers works here. They can deny you access to the business for NO REASON at all. They CANNOT deny you access for an improper reason like say, the color of your skin. Denying access for a negative review can indeed be seen like a retaliatory response and therefore, it may be an improper reason. Good luck hiring counsel to prove it and paying said counsel...

Delaram Keshvarian
Delaram Keshvarian
Answered
  • Orange, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If government has strong entanglement in the business (e.g., they benefit from the business in anyway), under free speech clause, 1st Amendment, they cannot deny their service based on your review.

But, if they are private business, you have no protected constitutional right against them.

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