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Legalease
Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  15 years exp all aspects of general law
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Hi, I was on my prevouis job for six years, I worked for the

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Hi, I was on my prevouis job for six years, I worked for the city in wich the state I live, I was off due to a personal injury for a year so they fired me, I appealed and it was denied. My question to you is this company has used my picture on their company vans for the last five years to represent the city and a special project, in total it was a group picture of four, the entire vans are wrapped, I never signed a waiver or anything and since I am no longer an employee at the company I no longer want my picture on their vans the vans are still in use driving around the city daily its a 24hr operation. Do I have the right to request for them to remove my picture from their company vehichles and am I entitled to any compensation?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Legalease replied 2 years ago.

Hello there

 

I believe you may have a viable claim for Invasion of privacy here so long as they did not slip in a "release" in any of your employment paperwork. However, even if they did get you to sign a release for the use of your likeness as an employee, I very much doubt that the right will be found to extend to the time after your termination. First, I cannot point you to a specific statute in the code books that holds this particular provision. Invasion of privacy rights are recognized in all states, including Texas, and the rights have largely been developed through reliance on the US and the Texas constitutions and a legal treatise used extensively by the courts as guidance for areas of the common law which have developed mainly through caselaw, called the "Restatement of the Law" (a group of nationwide scholars has met for about the past 100 years and they have published a legal treatise on each major area of the law -- Property, Criminal Law, Contracts, Torts (which is the legal name for a general civil lawsuit seeking damages) are just some of the areas that this group touches upon -- and this is an effort to encourage uniformity in state laws across the US -- and thus when a court looks for legal precedent to use to write and back up a decisions the courts will use these Restatement books and quote from them in their caselaw decisions as needed). Texas, like many other states has used and quoted from the Restatement of Torts, and in invasion of privacy civil lawsuits regarding the rights to employees to privacy (including their own likeness), the Texas Supreme Court has quoted the Restatement (2ND) of Torts § 652C, which provides "One who appropriates to his own use or benefit the name or likeness of another is subject to liability to the other for invasion of privacy." Also, here is a link to a lengthy treatise/article on this same subject -- it discusses a lot of employee privacy issues and the likeness issue and cases regarding the same are actually discussed in this article: http://www.akingump.com/docs/publication/279.html

My suggestion before you do anything is to get some photos and video of these trucks with date and time stamps on the photos and videos to show that the company is still using your likeness on these trucks. Then, what you do next is completely dependent upon what you want to obtain by notifying the company that you want your likeness removed from the trucks (and anywhere else they are using it). Your suggestion to write the letter is a good one if you are just looking to have your picture removed -- because once they get the letter and you state in the letter that they are invading your privacy by using the picture of a private person without permission in a public ad campaign -- they will work very hard to remove the pictures I am sure. However, I am not so certain you want to approach it in this manner if you are looking for compensation for at least the time after your termination that they have continued to use the picture. If you are looking for compensation then my suggestion is that you contact a local attorney and speak to the attorney about taking the case on contingency fee basis (he is paid when you are paid). If you contact the bar association of the nearest large city or county and use their referral services you should be able to get the names of a few lawyers who specialize in invasion of privacy cases like this and then you can talk to a number of them and find one who is willing to take the case on a contingency basis. You should print the article I linked you to above and take it with you because there are a number of TX cases referenced there and it will give the atty a place to start the research (believe it or not we do not always know exactly where to start and when a client comes into the office with a few cases to start with it speeds things up). So you should make this decision quickly because you only have 3 years after the termination to bring the case -- now, the employer will probably claim you signed a release but you must be insistent that even if you did sign a release you did not contemplate them putting your picture on a van and continuing to use it for years after you were terminated. I do suggest that you get your pictures and video and consult with a couple of attorneys on this matter before you actually send a letter to them because you do not want to give them advance warning and a chance to try to "run for cover" when they read your letter. With an attorney you may be able to negotiate a settlement from them without ever going to court. I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck. Let me know if you have more questions and if you do not I would appreciate it if you would press the green accept or submit button underneath this answer box so I will be paid for my time. I am not paid anything unless you press this button below and it will not cost you more money to press the button -- it simply acts as a trigger to Just Answer to pay me for my time in assisting you this evening. THANK YOU !!!

 

----MARY

Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 14461
Experience: 15 years exp all aspects of general law
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