In late October, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill designed to create labor protections for child models into law. The law, which was passed by state lawmakers in June, was sponsored by New York Senators Jeffrey Klein and Diane Savino. It recognizes child models as performers and places limits on the hours during which a model under age 18 may work. In addition, the law requires that each child who works as a model in New York be provided with a detailed work schedule, a place in which to study, and adult supervision. It also mandates that a portion of a child model’s pay be placed into a trust fund by his or her guardian. The new law goes into effect later this month.
The legislation was reportedly supported by child-model advocacy group Model Alliance. The organization’s director, Sara Ziff, said about half of all models used in New York’s fashion week are minors. She stated the requirements of the new law would likely change that ratio and reduce the number of children on the catwalks. Ziff added that the goal of the legislation was not make it more difficult for minors to work as models, but instead to protect children. According to Senator Savino, the law was necessary in order to protect minors who work as models from exploitation and sexual harassment or abuse.
New York’s billion-dollar international fashion industry is based largely on selling consumers a product through fantasy. Oftentimes, those products are sold using young and beautiful models. Fashion models in our state often begin their careers between the ages of 12 and 14. Additionally, child models may come to New York from another state or a foreign country. Sadly, many young fashion models become the victims of sexual harassment by individuals who are connected in the industry. Without legal protections in place, vulnerable child models may find it difficult or impossible to refuse unwanted sexual advances.
In the State of New York, sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. A model who is brave enough to stand up for his or her right to refuse unwanted sexual requests may face termination and extreme career damage. Any situation in which an individual’s employment is contingent on performing acts of a sexual nature is unacceptable. Thankfully, young models working on runways and fashion shoots in our state now have some legal protections.
The hardworking lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent the victims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in New York City and surrounding areas. At Phillips & Associates, our experienced attorneys will fight to protect your rights at the municipal, state, and national levels. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with a committed advocate, please call our knowledgeable lawyers at (212) 248-7431 or contact Phillips & Associates through our website.
More Blog Posts:
Former Goldman Sachs Employees Allege Gender Discrimination and Hostile Work Environment in Manhattan Lawsuit, New York Employment Attorney Blog, October 23, 2013
EEOC Lawsuit Reveals that Pregnancy Discrimination in New York and Elsewhere Can Take Many Forms, New York Employment Attorney Blog, October 15, 2013
New law aims to protect underage models, by David K. Li, New York Post
Photo credit: JKModel, morgueFile