Sexual Harassment in the Fashion Industry
Gender Discrimination Attorneys Advocating for New York City Employees
New York City is an international capitol of fashion and a huge industry. Unfortunately, the industry has a dark side. Many young models are exploited by powerful sexual harassers and abusers. Due to the nature of the business, many models and others within the industry are reluctant to report their abusers or otherwise seek remedies. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment lawyers may be able to help you recover damages if you experienced sexual harassment in the fashion industry, whether this took the form of a hostile work environment or quid pro quo harassment.
Sexual Harassment in the Fashion Industry
Sexual harassment can be extremely damaging, causing severe distress as well as economic losses to victims. Many people within the fashion industry have been reluctant to speak out against sexual harassment, due to a fear of retaliation or blackballing and the inability to secure work with the most prestigious and powerful tastemakers.
Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a person with authority tries to trade sexual favors for employment benefits. For example, if your agent promised to book you a plum modeling gig if you would sleep with him, this would be considered quid pro quo harassment. By contrast, a hostile work environment occurs if the harassment is so severe or pervasive that it renders the workplace hostile or offensive to a reasonable person. For example, if you are working with a fashion magazine in which the photographers and editors routinely denigrate women, make lewd remarks about your body parts, and touch you inappropriately, you may have been subject to a hostile work environment.
If you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, and you have an employment contract with a company, you can seek damages under federal, state, and local laws. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment against people who work for employers that have at least 15 employees. State and local laws prohibit sexual harassment at all employers. While the New York State Human Rights Law generally applies to businesses with four or more employees, it prohibits sexual harassment in all workplaces in the state, even those with just one employee.
Damages that your attorney may be able to help you recover include back pay, front pay, medical expenses, therapy bills, and emotional damages. Back pay could include wages, bonuses, commissions, health insurance, sick pay, vacation pay, retirement benefits, profit sharing, and stock options. However, this figure can be reduced if you do not mitigate your damages (minimize your losses) by searching for another job and taking other steps to reduce your wage loss. As long as you made a good-faith effort, you are entitled to the full amount of wages that you lost due to sexual harassment. Front pay is supposed to compensate you for wages that you are likely to lose from the date of your judgment into the future if you are unable to find another job as a result of sexual harassment. Often, people within the industry blackball somebody who complains about sexual harassment, so it becomes difficult to secure another job, and front pay is intended to remedy that problem. The court will consider how long it might take to find a similar job, how old you were, how long you stayed at your old job, and how long people typically work in that type of job.
What if You Are Not an Employee?
A difficulty with pursuing damages for sexual harassment in New York for many models within the fashion industry is that they are not employees. You may not be able to pursue damages under the usual anti-discrimination laws if you are an independent contractor or categorized as a non-employee. You should discuss your situation with a lawyer to understand your rights.
Recently, a State Assemblywoman announced that she would introduce an amendment to the anti-discrimination laws to provide protection to models, even those who are not "employees," so that agencies, designers, photographers, retailers, and others in the industry can be held accountable for sexual harassment and abuse. The specific provisions are supposed to protect employees even if they are independent contractors whose agencies act as advisers rather than employers.
Seek Guidance from a Sexual Harassment Lawyer in New York City
At Phillips & Associates, we may be able to help you recover damages if you were subject to sexual harassment in the fashion industry in New York City. We fight employment discrimination and harassment in Staten Island, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Westchester County, and New Jersey. Contact our attorneys at (866) 229-9441 or through our online form.
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 (866) 229-9441 or complete our online form.
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