Children working in entertainment are uniquely vulnerable and need protection. That’s why child actors, dancers, and singers are all protected by Department of Labor regulations. But fashion models–and only fashion models–are excluded from these protections. We’re asking you to sign this petition that child models be included in the same regulations that protect all other child performers in New York.

Give Child Models The Same Legal Protections As All Child Performers

To: The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of New York State
To: Eric Schneiderman, Attorney General of New York State
To: Peter M. Rivera, Commissioner of the New York State Dept. of Labor
To: Dr. John B. King, Jr., Commissioner of the New York State Dept. of Education
____________________________

Children working as professionals in the entertainment industry are uniquely vulnerable and need legal protection. Unfortunately, however, not all child performers can claim equal protection under the laws of New York State. This is why we are asking for your help -- to ensure that child models are afforded the same level of protection afforded to all other child performers working in New York.

Currently, the Department of Labor regulates and protects all child performers working in New York, with one notable exception. The regulations do not extend to child models who perform print and runway work. Fashion models--and only fashion models--are excluded from the protection afforded by the Department of Labor. Instead, models below the age of 18 who appear in print ads or walk the runways during Fashion Week, fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education and are afforded only modest protections, specifically with regard to working hours, which are rarely observed or enforced. In fact, violations of the existing laws governing the use of child models are so frequent and widespread that some models have likened New York’s modeling industry to the “Wild West.” And even these modest and mostly unenforced provisions fall significantly short of what is afforded by the Department of Labor.

For most models who start as children in this profession, this issue is personal. At the age of 14, when many professional print and runway models start their careers, a model is unprepared to deal with inappropriate demands from adults in positions of authority, like photographers, agents and clients, who may pressure them to pose nude or semi-nude, give in to sexual demands or engage in risky behavior including, starvation dieting, working long hours without pay and forfeiting high school. For many young models working today, bowing to these pressures often feels less like a choice than a prerequisite for employment. And without regulations mandating the completion of at least some level of education and the provision of on-set tutors, many young models will forego their education entirely to pursue short-lived careers, only to wind up earning little or no money and incurring substantial start-up costs often amounting to tens of thousands of dollars of debt to their modeling agencies.

Most models begin their careers as children, but they do not receive the same legal protections as other child performers who are covered by regulations providing for chaperones, tutors and trust accounts. It’s time for that to change. I hope that the legislature will finally protect child models. Will you join me by signing this petition?

Sincerely,

Sara Ziff , Founder & Director of the Model Alliance
Girl Model Team, www.girlmodelthemovie.com
Chris Gay, President of Marilyn Model Management
Carre Otis, Board Member of the Model Alliance
Alan Gordon, National Executive Director of AGMA
Doreen Small, Adjunct Professor at the Fashion Law Institute
Dorian Warren, Assistant Professor of American Politics at Columbia University
Flora Stamatiades, National Director of Organizing at Actors' Equity
Meredith Hattam, Board Member of the Model Alliance
Rachel Blais, Board Member of the Model Alliance
Susan Scafidi, Director of the Fashion Law Institute
Tracy Murphy, Board Member of the Model Alliance
Milla Jovovich, Board Member of the Model Alliance
Chris Brenner, Managing Agent
Amy Lemons, Board Member of the Model Alliance
Kalpona Akter, BCWS
Sumi Abedin, BCWS

*For more information on current laws, please visit www.modelalliance.org/child-models
**To view proposed regulations, please visit http://labor.ny.gov/legal/laws/pdf/child-performer-regulations/part186-child-performer.pdf

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Click here to view the current laws.

Proposed regulations are available for viewing here.

Reactions from Industry Insiders
Under New York Arts and Cultural Affairs law, models under 18 have modest protections regarding working hours and rest breaks, but these regulations are often violated. The Department of Education, not the Department of Labor, regulates child models and lack of enforcement has been a longstanding problem.

While child models who engage in “television broadcast or performance” are included in the definition of “child performer,” those who do runway, editorial and advertising work have been conspicuously left out.

Check out the models' reactions on this issue here.
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