You asked: “We are a preschool day care facility. We want to post photos and brief bios of our teachers on our website to allow the parents of our students to become familiar with our staff. But one of our long-standing teachers feels very strongly that she does not want her photo used. Are we allowed to post employee photos on line?”
Employers have been photographing employees for a long time. Mostly, those pictures were used for security purposes; on employee badges or for employee identification. Some companies also use employees’ images in marketing materials that usually have a fairly limited distribution. However, now that most companies have websites and/or social media accounts, it is not unusual to find employee pictures in the most public of places: on the internet.
Companies have a host of reasons for using employees’ images on line.
1. To make the company more personal/real to customers.
2. To allow remote clients/customers to “see” the person helping them.
3. To accurately reflect the company culture or activities to potential candidates and clients.
4. As a visual directory for employees within the company.
Not all employees are on board for their own personal reasons.
1. She might have a general discomfort having photos taken.
2. She may have been the victim of stalking or harassment and feel vulnerable.
3. She may lack trust for anything associated with the web.
4. She may have religious reasons for not wanting a photo snapped.
Regardless of the company’s business reasons for using the images, and regardless of whether your state has a law regulating the use of a person’s “likeness” (and many do), the best practice is: get the employees’ consent before you use any pictures. And get it in writing. This is the best way to protect your company’s interests and your employees. Have consenting employees sign a release that describes how the company intends to use their image and expressly permits you to use their image for that purpose. It is best to present that release to all new hires and keep it in their personnel file for future reference. If you do not have that release, do not use their image on websites or for any other purpose.
Other quick considerations:
· If your employee is not over the age of 18, do not use their image, whether or not they agree to it.
· Do not insist on an explanation from employees who refuse to consent. You don’t need to know why.
· Be careful to make it clear that consent to the use of an employee’s image in marketing or on line does not imply special privileges for that employee.
For more information about consent forms or any other Human Resource issues, please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like email notification of all blog updates, just click the follow button at the bottom of the window.
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