New York lawmaker introduces legislation to protect models from harassment

New York, Oct 24 (IANS) A lawmaker of US state of New York on Monday announced the introduction of legislation that would provide models with protection against sexual and other forms of harassment in the industry.

The bill, referred to as the “Models’ Harassment Protection Act,” follows months of research and coordination with the Model Alliance — a research and policy organisation that advocates for labour rights for models and other workers in the fashion industry.

In a press release issued by New York State (NYS) Assemblywoman Nily Rozic on her NYS Assembly website, she said, “No one should ever experience sexual harassment in or outside of the workplace.”

“If there is anything we are learning from over the past few weeks is that we have reached a turning point whether to accept sexual harassment as a norm, or end the cycle by enacting protections and providing a path of recourse,” said Rozic.

“Models lack basic rights and protections as workers, including protection against sexual harassment,” Xinhua quoted Sara Ziff, a model and the founder and executive director of the Model Alliance, as saying.

“For years, other models and I have spoken out about systemic sexual harassment and abuse on the job – and yet, powerful individuals have tried to silence us and tacitly given approval that this behaviour is okay,” she said.

“Sexual harassment is not okay and should not be tolerated by models, nor should it be tolerated by our industry,” she added.

Critical to the bill is establishing that the provisions apply to models regardless of their status as employees or independent contractors, the release said.

The bill would address loopholes in current law by making it an unlawful discriminatory practice for a modelling entity, whether it be a management agency or company, to subject a model to harassment, regardless of their status as an independent contractor or employee.

Harassment includes but is not limited to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and harassment based on age, race, national origin, colour, sexual orientation, sex and disability.

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