In some respects, what we are seeing unfold on social media is a response to the failure of sexual harassment law. This is particularly true in industries like fashion and modeling that rely heavily on independent contractors, where there is no HR department or sexual harassment training that informs people of their rights and obligations. The Model Alliance is working with various industry stakeholders to coordinate efforts to address these concerns.
We should be concerned about the dismissal of due process. We cannot be careless about conducting investigations and verifying accounts. The immediate response has been a rush to expulsion, and in some cases, when there have been multiple accounts of misconduct, that may be justified. But in other cases, there may be very different points of view about what transpired. Due process is extremely important.
Last year, with New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, the Model Alliance introduced the Models’ Harassment Protection Act, a bill that would close loopholes that currently leave models open to sexual harassment on the job. Models are often classified as independent contractors, excluding them from typical employment protections. This bill would bring them under the umbrella of protection against sexual harassment.
The Model Alliance also offers discreet grievance reporting through Model Alliance Support. If a model has experienced unwanted sexual attention on the job, he or she can contact us and we can refer the model to an attorney or other resources if necessary.