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Fashion Industry Insiders Say Employers Fail to Follow Employment Laws

Employers have the responsibility to stay alert to employment law changes and modify any policies that do not comply with federal and state laws. The fashion industry, however, continues to show signs that they're far behind in protecting models. As independent contractors for fashion designers, it's sometimes unclear for the employer how to treat the models under the law, but it's becoming increasingly clear that further regulation may be needed to prevent grievous harm.

Industry insiders have long said that the fashion industry hires underage models who are seriously underweight. The models are not often paid for the overtime hours that they work and models under age 18 work much later than California employment laws allow. Many former models have also spoken out about the rampant sexual harassment that is prevalent throughout the international fashion industry.

Models fear losing future employment if they speak out about unlawful employment law practices, which is why a former model started an organization to advocate for the rights of models called The Model Alliance. The organization is "dedicated to improving the working conditions of models and persuading the industry to take better care of its young," CBS News reported.

While the advocacy group is a good start, models who are sexually harassed or otherwise the victim of employment law violations have rights against their employers. Holding a fashion designer or employer accountable for a wage and hour violation, sexual harassment or overtime violation may help to protect future models from the unlawful practices.

Source: CBS news, "Fashion models organize to fend off abuses," 2/11/2012

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