What is my legal recourse if an ex-employer is using my picture for marketing without my approval?

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What is my legal recourse if an ex-employer is using my picture for marketing without my approval?

An ex-employer that laid me off is using my picture on their facebook page claiming I am still an employee. The picture is used for marketing purposes. This is after I have signed a separation agreement. How can I be compensated for the use of my picture?

Asked on March 21, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First, they don't have a right to do this, unless at some point you signed an agreement giving them permission to use your likeness. (If you did, that agreement is enforceable.)Without such an agreement, people may control use of their own likeness.

Second, you could ask them to stop and, if they don't, you could bring a legal action for a court order (called injunctive relief) requiring them to take down your picture.

As a practical matter, you probably can't get compensation. Compensation is based on damages; e.g. how much they made by using your specific image, or how much you'd normally be paid for the right to use your image. As you can imagine, celebraties, whose likenesses have a real--and provable--cash value can recover substantial damages, but for a non-celebrity, as a practical matter, there really may be little or no money at stake, making recovery effectively impossible or at least uneconomic to pursue.


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