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What can I do to have my former employer remove my pictures and name from their company website?

Newport, OR |

I recently left a position with an employer that used my image, videos of me, and name on their company website for promotional purposes. I am no longer affiliated with this employer, and when I "google" my name, I find myself all over this website rather than my own website that I just launched. I would like to know if I can legally demand them to remove me. I don't want potential clients to become confused and think I am still affiliated with this company in any way.

Attorney Answers 4


Dear Abused,

In addition to the question of whether you gave them permission to use your image is the question of HOW they are using your image. If, in effect, your former company is representing that you still work for it, then they are misleading the public.

I don't know on what terms you left the company. If you retain any relationship with it, then you ought to consider just talking with them first. Let them know that (a) you do not like them using your image, (b) it is confusing to potential customers, and (c) their implied representation that you still work there could be considered a violation of Unfair Trade Practices Act in Oregon.

Jeff Merrick, Oregon Trial Attorney 503-665-4234

The above is not legal advice. I cannot give you reliable advice without knowing more information. It is intended to raise some issues for you to discuss with your own lawyer.

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It depends on whether you knew the photos/images were being taken and also whether you gave the company permission to use the pictures/images for their promotional purposes.

What's ultimately involved here are questions regarding "right to publicity" and "right to privacy" but you need to first determine what, if any, permission you may have given the company (e.g., via an employment agreement). By virtue of your employment with the company, you probably relinquished some of your rights to the company; on the other hand, they probably can't use your image/name for free publicity indefinitely without some restrictions.

What usually works best is to have an intellectual property attorney send a letter to a company if a review of your specific facts suggest doing so. The company would probably rather replace its content of you rather than have a fight about it. But be forewarned, having your name removed is one thing - if your images are just one among a group of people, you'll probably have a harder time convincing the company to change anything.

Per the AVVO terms of use, this general information does not constitute legal advice, nor establish an attorney-client relationship. Consult an attorney for personal legal advice.

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To add to Bernard's spot on response, if your occupation is such that you provide professional services [doctor, lawyer, accountant, guitar teacher, architect, etc.] for which you are personally accountable, it is possible that your previous employer in engaging in an unfair business practice by continuing to advertise using your name and image -- and perhaps unfairly competing with you as well. As suggested by Bernard, you need to chat with an intellectual property attorney licensed to practice in your state.

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It seems a bit strange that your former company would have your name and image "all over" their site. As my colleague noted, since you presumably gave consent for you employer to include you in these promotions, you probably didn't limit their use to your tenture of employment with this company.

And if your name and image is included in a group of other employees, you'll have a difficult time getting the company to remove a group photo and/or group video from their site, but you'd likely have much better luck having individual photos and possibly references removed.

See an IP lawyer in your state,and perhaps proceed first with a simple request, which the company may well grant without having to make a demand.

Also, there are many ways to add content and incoming and outgoing hyperlinks to your own website to cause it come up before your former employer's in any searches for you, so you may want to direct some of your energy to doing that, rather than being concerned with your former employer's site.

Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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