Can a website photo be an "other assignee duty" for an employee? I have a vendor who is coming to take photos of us using their software, they will share their photos with us for our website as well. It's a good opportunity to have professional photography on our website. It would be during the normal workday while everyone is "on the clock"

Can an employee say that they cannot be asked to participate in photos. Can they decline with legal protection just like they can decline to contribute to my political cause or they can decline to participate in the company picnic (unpaid) after hours?

I have had people say that because of google images, a victim of domestic violence could be located at my office so I cannot require participation or appearance in a website photo like I can assign them an additional task directly related to their regular.

Whether you SHOULD compel someone to participate in the photo are two different things. The question is whether you CAN assign someone to have their photo taken for promotional materials including a website is the question.

THanks Andrew

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    Is this in the US? What State? – mikeazo Jun 16 '16 at 18:56
  • This is in KANSAS. U.S.A. – Andrew W Jun 16 '16 at 22:55

I can't help with the specific jurisdiction, however, the common law principle of an employee-employer relationship is that the employee is obliged to follow the lawful and reasonable directions of the employer.

Clearly its lawful for people's photographs to appear on a website so the direction would appear to be lawful.

Reasonableness will depend on the individual circumstances. If an employee felt that it was unreasonable and objected then the substance of the objection would be relevant. "I don't want to" is probably not a strong enough position to show that the direction was unreasonable. "I have body image issues and it would cause me mental and emotional distress to know my photograph was available to billions of internet users" might mean the request was unreasonable. "My ex will find out where I work and come at me with an axe" almost certainly makes the request unreasonable.

Of more interest is the objection "That's not what I'm employed to do". This is much more nuanced: clearly its unreasonable (and probably unlawful) to ask a hospital orderly to perform brain surgery but it is also unreasonable to ask a brain surgeon to act as an orderly. There is certainly some merit that a request for a person hired as an accountant or clerk or machinist to work as a model is unreasonable ... maybe.

In a more general sense, if an employer makes a request that an employee believes is unreasonable then if there is any merit at all in the employee's position the odds are good that the request is actually unreasonable.

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