A former employee of the supermarket chain BOMPREÇO BAHIA SUPERMERCADOS LTDA. filed a lawsuit against it, demanding compensation for moral damages for having been forced to work as an "human billboard", wearing t-shirts promoting the supermarket's partners. The plaintiff based his moral damages claims on the fact that there was no clause in the employment contract that required him to use this kind of clothing and affirmed that the employer's conduct of exploiting his image for economic reasons was an abuse of authority.
The Regional Labor Court (TRT) of the 5th region considered that the use of t-shirts by employees with the name of products sold by the supermarket did not represent misuse of the employees' image and compared the use of the t-shirt with that of a military uniform by a soldier. Moreover, TRT stated that, in order for the employee's image to really influence sales as a type of marketing, it would be necessary for him to have a certain amount of prestige among consumers.
Afterwards, the case was analyzed at the Superior Labor Court (TST), in Brasilia, by Justice Alexandre Luiz Ramos, who voted for dismissing the employee's appeal. Justice Ramos deemed the use of a uniform by the supermarket's employees as lawful because, after being hired, the employee shall follow all the conditions established by the company - including the use of the uniform. He also recalled that sellers are paid a wage proportional to the sales of the products advertised on the uniforms, either by receiving commissions, when applicable, or by indirect benefits from the success of the economic activity. Therefore, the employee was paid through his salary for promoting the products.
Originally published 9 May, 2020
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