Protecting Models from Sexual Harassment
New York State Assemblywoman seeks to pass a new bill that would protect models from sexual harassment in the workplace
New light has been shed on the issue of sexual harassment. People are no longer letting sexual harassment perpetrators slide by without any repercussions. UCOMM recently reported on what unions like UNITE HERE, SAG-AFTRA, and the construction trades are doing to help prevent sexual harassment. UCOMM’s latest live stream covered the important issues of how to stop sexual harassment from happening at your local union. Now, the reactions to this issue are starting to influence the legal system.
New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, a Democrat from Queens, announced recently that she would introduce an amendment to the state’s current anti-discrimination laws. Known as the “Models’ Harassment Protection Act”, this bill is a result of months of research and cooperation between Rozic and The Model Alliance, a New York-based group that champions labor rights for models and other workers in the fashion industry. The goal of the legislation is to hold modeling agencies accountable for protecting models against harassment of all kinds.
Currently, models are considered independent contractors. This status excludes them from the protections against harassment and discrimination that are provided to employees under state law. Modeling agencies are able to dodge accountability for the welfare of their clients by listing themselves as “management companies”. By doing that, these agencies exploit the “incidental booking” clause under New York’s employment agency laws. Agencies that claim to be management companies escape licensing requirements, avoid caps on commissions and avoid accountability to the models they represent. This new bill would make it illegal for agencies to subject models to harassment, regardless of those factors.
The Assemblywoman’s bill seeks to place liability for harassment that may occur on the clients who have contracted the model for the shoot. This is especially important as news broke today that Terry Richardson has been blacklisted by Condé Nast International, which owns publications like British Vogue, Glamour, and GQ Style. Depending on the booking, the client in question would be the photographers, brand, designer, or publication that has secured the model for the job. If this bill is signed into law, not only would the bill give models a clear legal path for reporting harassment, but it would also be a big step in reversing the culture of silence that has permeated fashion for decades.
Sara Ziff, the founder of the Model Alliance, said in a statement about the bill, “For years, other models and I have spoken out about systemic sexual harassment and abuse on the job—and yet, powerful individuals have tried to silence us and tacitly given approval that this behavior is okay. Sexual harassment is not okay and should not be tolerated by models, nor should it be tolerated by our industry.”