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Sexual Assault in the Fashion Industry

New York City Lawyers Assisting Victims of Harassment in the Workplace

New York is one of the fashion capitols of the world. Models within this industry are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment. Often, they are young and come from other countries. They may not have adults providing them with suitable guidance and protection while on shoots. Sexual harassment can include requests for sexual favors, intrusive touching or groping, and sexual comments. Sometimes the sexual harassment also takes the form of sexual assault. If you experience sexual assault in the modeling industry, you should contact the New York City sexual harassment attorneys at Phillips & Associates about your legal options.

Sexual Assault in the Modeling Industry

Often, models are young when they start out, and they do not know how to refuse or know that they can refuse. They may be offered stardom by someone very powerful in the industry, and they may be afraid that they will not get a break if they report the problem. Their agencies may place more importance on the photographer than on the model's safety. In some cases, someone powerful in the agency is the perpetrator doing the harassing. Unfortunately, while modeling may look glamorous, many models are victims of serious sexual harassment, including sexual assault. Victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault are often afraid of being blacklisted if they complain.

If you have been subject to sexual assault as a model, you have legal options. Sexual assault can include any unwelcome touching or groping and sexual comments. It can also include rape. The harassment or sexual assault is often committed by a person in power. As well as a civil lawsuit, you may be able to file criminal charges. Additionally, a company may be held responsible under New York City law for your sexual assault, depending on the circumstances. It can be challenging to recover damages, particularly if you are not an employee, but recent proposed changes to the law may make it easier. Both male and female models are victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. If you are a model and have been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault, contact the employment law firm of Phillips & Associates. Our consultations are free and there are no attorney fees owed unless we recover a settlement or jury award.

Title VII, the New York State Human Rights Law, & the New York City Human Rights Law

Others in the modeling industry may also encounter sexual assault as a form of harassment. For example, as a secretary, agent, or booker, you may face sexual assault from a person higher in the employment chain or a coworker. Other fashion professionals, such as photographer assistants, makeup artists and stylists can experience sexual harassment during photo shoots. Many victims are afraid to complain or report the sexual harassment. An experienced employment law firm can help you draft a compliant of sexual harassment to put the company and perpetrator on notice.

The federal law that prohibits sexual assault in the workplace as a form of sexual harassment and discrimination is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law protects people who work for employers that have at least 15 employees. Title VII requires you to first file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if you want to pursue damages. The New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law may provide broader protections to people employed in the modeling industry. You can be protected against sexual harassment under these laws even if your employer only has one employee (you).

In most cases, the greatest protection to employees is available under the New York City Human Rights Law. Unlike federal law, there are no caps on damages under city law. An attorney may, in some cases, be able to help a worker recover punitive damages for sexual assault under the New York City Human Rights Law. The differences in the discrimination and sexual harassment laws in New York are complex. Our employment law firm has experienced filing lawsuits under Federal, State and the New York City sexual harassment laws.

Amendment to State Anti-Discrimination Law

Recently, in October 2017, State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic announced that she plans to introduce an amendment to the state's current anti-discrimination law. This amendment would provide specific protection against sexual harassment to models. Models need the amendment because in many cases, models are classified as independent contractors rather than as employees. Their agencies are often considered advisers rather than employers.

A client may book them through an agency, but there may not be an employment contract that would allow the model to pursue a claim under Title VII, the New York State Human Rights Law, or the New York City Human Rights Law. The bill aims to close a potential loophole in the existing law that could allow an entity serving in an employment capacity to get out of liability for sexual assault perpetrated by one of its agents against a model.

Discuss Your Case with a Sexual Harassment Attorney

At Phillips & Associates, we provide knowledgeable, aggressive legal representation to people harmed by sexual assault in the modeling industry. We are one of the largest employment law firms in New York representing employees. Our lawyers may be able to develop a strategy to pursue damages on your behalf. We fight employment discrimination and harassment in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties. We also handle sexual harassment and sexual assault cases in Westchester, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Contact us at (833) 529-3476 or complete our online form.

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