We have all seen what happens when celebrities' intimate photographs are leaked to the public by vindictive exes and malicious parties. Yet such instances can happen to private individuals as well, with persons in power over them using possession of intimate or explicit images to coerce specific behavior out of them. This can even happen in the workplace; there are a number of ways employers can obtain intimate or embarrassing photographs of employees, including employees who may have more personal relationships with employers. If you are in such a situation, what are your options?
First, it is critical to know that for your employer to possess or distribute those materials is not only a violation of your privacy, but illegal under California state law in very specific statutes outside of the existing statutes governing sexual harassment in the workplace, which this also constitutes. You have the right to pursue action, including an immediate injunction to prevent distribution of private materials or cease any existing distribution that has already taken place. A temporary restraining order may also be granted.
Furthermore, you have the right to use a pseudonym when pursuing action. When you already face embarrassment regarding the materials in question and those materials may be used as evidence in court, you may protect yourself via anonymity when seeking a case for harassment and violation of privacy. Identifying information may also be redacted from court documents.
This is an informational blog post that exists only as a reference, and not as a substitute for legal counsel.