With its vibrant fashion community, Los Angeles attracts fashion models from all over the world looking to hit it big in Hollywood. What many people do not know is that the modeling industry has been accused of employees’ rights violations. Some industry insiders claim that employment laws do not do enough to protect young models so they have created an advocacy group to try and prevent abuses from happening.

These insiders claim that child labor laws do not prevent modeling agencies from recruiting and hiring underage models. Many young girls are recruited starting at age 12. These young women are then subjected to sexual harassment and pressured to stay extremely thin. Many of these young girls, insiders say, are immigrants looking to send money home to their families so they are desperate to work. Furthermore, many of the young women refuse to report illegal and inappropriate behavior out of fear of retaliation.

In addition to poor working conditions, many insiders say that minimum wage laws are ignored or circumvented in the fashion world. Models are often hired as independent contractors so that agencies do not have to give them full pay and benefits. There have also been reports of models being paid in clothing instead of cash after completing jobs.

The modeling advocacy group is working to change some of employment law violations so that new models have more protections against abuse. Workers in all fields need to understand that they too do not need to tolerate these types of conditions. Every California employee has certain rights that must be upheld in the workplace. If employees have been subjected to violations of minimum wage laws, sexual harassment or unsafe working conditions, they may be entitled to compensation.

Source: Truthout, “Fashion Models Shatter Stereotypes, Demand Labor Rights,” Jenny Brown, March 11, 2013