Model bill aims to end industry harassment
ALBANY, NEW YORK – As the chips fall in Hollywood on the heels of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, a New York state law seeks to close the gap in sexual harassment legislation that leaves models vulnerable to harassers. Currently, most models are considered independent contractors, a status that has left their rights to file claims of sexual harassment against industry insiders almost impossible.

Currently, workplace sexual harassment law only protects “employees” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law.  The distinction between employee and independent contractor is always a hotly contested topic in employment law.

Under Federal law, an employee is a person in the service of another under any contract of hire, express or implied, where the employer has the power or right to control and direct the employee in material details of how the work is performed. Conversely, an independent contractor is an individual who, in the exercise of an independent employment, contracts to do a piece of work according to his own methods and is subject to their employer’s control only as to the end product or final result of his work.

The distinction between employee and independent contractor has a long standing tradition in American jurisprudence, however, while clear on paper, in practice this often leaves individuals like models in a precarious position as their daily job duties may leave them vulnerable to harassment by many different individuals.

Models often have managers and agents. While these individuals act on behalf of models, they often control the models schedules, negotiate their pay, direct their job duties etc. In most situations they would be defined as employees of their managers, however, these managers and agents are technically employees of the model. To add to the confusion, when at a photoshoot or at a gig, they are often instructed to work with photographers, designers, retailers and other independent contractors that are not connected to any entity, leaving them open to sexual harassment by these individuals without any recourse.

These arrangements seem beneficial on the surface, however, because of the power dynamic between models and the rest of the industry, these arrangements leave many models open to sexual harassment. While models may be the face of the industry, because of their age and gender, they are often victims of sexual harassment. Photographers, such as Rolling Stone Photographer Terry Richardson, often hold enormous influence in the industry and use that influence to sexually harass models under the guise of career advancement.
The most common form of sexual harassment models face is a quid pro quo sexual harassment, or the classic “sleep with me and I’ll make you a star.” While it may seem like an antiquated Hollywood troupe, it is a reality for many models. A lot of models are younger and will often feel pressured to do whatever a person in power suggest for fear of ruining their career or reputation. Often times these individuals are blindsided at shoots, expecting a traditional photoshoot but when they arrive the photographer pressures them into doing the shoot topless or completely naked. Many managers and agents force models to take private meetings with known harassers and are often encouraged to sleep with their harassers to protect their careers.
The New York Legislator is no longer blind to this type of harassment and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic introduced the Model’s Harassment Protection Act which aims to hold those individuals accountable for their harassing conduct.

While sexual harassment law may not have caught up completely with modern workplaces, the experienced sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC have years of experience litigating claims of sexual harassment and are on the cutting edge of sexual harassment law. Working with our Philadelphia sexual harassment attorneys, we have recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars on behalf of our clients who were the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. If you feel you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, please give our talented attorney


Call today to schedule a FREE sexual harassment or employment discrimination legal Consultation in NY, NJ & PA with one of our top rated employment law or sexual harassment attorneys here at the Derek Smith Law Group. You can reach us online or by calling . Our New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia labor & employment law attorneys handle a variety of cases involving sexual harassment, racial discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and other employment-related claims. We serve clients throughout New York, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. We also have offices in New Jersey and Philadelphia to serve you.

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About Derek Smith

Attorney Derek T. Smith is an experienced sexual harassment & discrimination law litigator who has particular experience in the areas of workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, civil rights litigation, employment law and civil litigation.

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