Hi Lucille:When an employer uses an employee's photograph, likeness, or attributes specific statements to an employee without his or her permission, an individual may have a valid misappropriation claim (e.g., the employer publishes an employee's photograph or likeness on company brochures without first obtaining the employee's consent). The overriding principle governing such claims is that an individual has an exclusive right to his or her identity. To prevent such claims, employers should obtain a release from the employee before using his or her name or likeness.
There are a number of issues to consider before implementing this type of policy.
The first is a safety concern that many employees might have, especially women. If the photos are being posted on a web site that is available to the public, women who have been in abusive relationships or the victims of a stalker would be strongly opposed to having their pictures posted. In fact, posting their pictures could put them in danger.
Likewise, many people would prefer not to have their picture posted on the Internet and available to the public. These issues are less of a concern if the photos are only on an Intranet and secure from nonemployees, but there may still be legitimate reasons why an employee would not want their photo posted.
It is always important when considering a new policy to think through the business reason for the policy. What is the business reason for posting employee pictures on the web site? Is it really necessary? If yes, then it is important for employees to have a way to opt out.