The modeling industry is a common place for several types of questionable workplace behaviors and sexual harassment. The industry could stand to be overhauled, and changes in employment laws could help address these issues and problems. Currently, the modeling industry is not heavily regulated, allowing for the violation sexual harassment laws and other illicit behaviors to occur, like paying models in clothing or with other items, rather than monetary wages.
Part of the problem in the industry stems from determining the model’s employer of record and which entity should be held accountable when harassment, exploitation, or wage violations occur. Under its current structure and guidelines, there is often a multi-layer level of employers, agencies, clients, and models. As a result, models find they are not provided the same workplace protections as other employees in other industries.
Sexual harassment in the modeling industry is nothing new. Studies have been conducted where models were asked about working conditions, the working environment, and sexual harassment. One such study, conducted by Model Alliance in 2012, found 28 percent of models experienced pressure to have sex while at work. Another 30 percent of models reported having been touched inappropriately while working. An alarming 87 percent of models reported they were asked to pose naked at casting calls and jobs without any advance notice.
Out of the models surveyed, only 29 percent filed claims of sexual harassment with current and potential clients. What is disturbing is that many of the agencies encouraged models to engage in sexual acts with current and future clients as a means to further their modeling careers. Due to how the current laws are written, most models are considered independent contractors, so they are not entitled to the same sexual harassment protections under federal and state laws.
In addition, since the 1970s, modeling agencies say they are modeling management agencies, not employment agencies. This has allowed agencies to financially exploit models for years. Rather than being held to a maximum cap, or requiring agencies to discuss compensation for modeling jobs and giving models the opportunity to decline work, it has allowed them to essentially steal wages from the models these agencies represent.
In some situations, models have no idea how much the client is paying for the job, are paid late, not paid all of their wages they earned, not paid at all, or partially or fully paid with goods like designer clothing, instead of money. As a result, modeling agencies are able to get around federal and state laws where they would be held accountable for sexual harassment and other unfavorable working conditions.
By regulating the industry and reclassifying model agencies as employment service agencies, they would be forced to comply with the same employee protection laws as other industries. If you feel you have been sexually harassed in the workplace or financially exploited by your employer, do not hesitate to call Barrett & Farahany, LLP at (404) 238-7299 now to arrange a free case evaluation and consultation appointment to discuss your matter further.