Is my former employer violating my right of privacy if it is still using my image/likeness as a marketing tool?

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2012

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Is my former employer violating my right of privacy if it is still using my image/likeness as a marketing tool?

I left my employer 9 months agoand asked at that time my images/likeness be removed from the website which is the primary marketing vehicle for the company. It has now been 9 months and after repeated requests my likeness is still on the site and the owner maintains that they own the right to leave it up as it was acquired while I was the CEO and they own it. Can I sue in small claims that they have violated my right of publicity and is an invasion of my privacy? I have billed them a nominal fee of $1000 month but they have refused to pay or remove. Can I sue for compensation?

Asked on March 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unless you had previously consented to the use of your image in such fashion, so that the employer would retain the right to do this even after your employment ended (e.g. in perpetuity), they should not be able to continue using your image, and doing so violates your right to control the use of your own likeness. You may therefore  have a right to seek either compensation and/or an order forcing them to stop doing this.

Unless you are a celebrity, however, $1,000 a month is not a "nominal fee"--would anyone (e.g. an ad agency or a company advertising its products) pay you $1,000 a month to use your image? That is highly unlikely, I would imagine. You could only seek compensation related to the actual value of your likeness, which I suspect is much lower than $1,000 a month. To recover that much, you would need to show that $1,000/month is the actual value of your likeness.

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