Deletion of data and photos of employees who have left the company

An employee's right of personality is violated if an employer continues to present personal data and photos of employees who have left on its homepage. The employee concerned can demand their deletion by way of an interim injunction.

This was decided by the Hessian Regional Labour Court, thus confirming a corresponding ruling by the Frankfurt am Main Labour Court.

The plaintiff is a lawyer and is also admitted to the US bar. She worked for the tax consultant and law firm of the three defendants from 1 May 2011 to 31 July 2011. During the period of employment, the plaintiff was listed on the homepage of the law firm with a corresponding profile as a lawyer of the law firm. Furthermore, a web page was maintained in the news blog of the homepage, in which the plaintiff's profile and photo were also displayed, together with the news that she was now strengthening the team of lawyers in the area of commercial and corporate law.

Both publications were made with the knowledge and intention of the applicant.

After leaving, the plaintiff continued to be admitted to the bar. She also became head of the legal department of a company. She demanded that her former employers delete her personal data from both websites. The defendant law firm deleted the data from its homepage, but not from the website within the news blog.

The interim injunction sought against this was successful before the Labour Court. The defendant's appeal was unsuccessful. The Hessian Regional Labour Court was also of the opinion that the defendant law firm had to delete the plaintiff's personal data including her photo from all pages of its internet presentation. The defendants were threatened with an administrative fine of €50,000 for each case of contravention.

The publication unjustifiably interfered with the plaintiff's right of personality after the end of the employment relationship. The published profile had an advertising character. The applicant's individual personality and professional qualifications were deliberately highlighted by the photo and text. It gave the false impression that the plaintiff was still working at the law firm. This also led to competitive disadvantages for the plaintiff in her position as a lawyer. Potential clients were referred to the defendant's homepage.

There was no legitimate interest of the defendant in publishing the plaintiff's data after the end of the employment relationship.

Hess LAG of January 24, 2012, AZ. 19 SaGa 1480/11
Previous instance: Frankfurt am Main Labor Court of October 5, 2011, AZ. 13 Ga 160/11


Source: Press release of the Hessian Regional Labour Court


Goldberg Attorneys at Law

Attorney at Law Michael Ullrich, LL.M. (Information Law)

Specialist lawyer for information technology law