Modeling is an industry that is notorious for taking advantage of its members. Because of the unique relationship between the model, the agency, and their employers, there are many legal issues that you would not normally encounter in the typical employer-employee relationship. Whether you are just beginning your modeling career or are well-established in the industry, experienced legal counsel can help you protect your rights. A Los Angeles employment attorney for models can help you navigate whatever challenges you are facing, whether it is reviewing your first contract or handling a dispute concerning your compensation.
Modeling Contracts – Review and Negotiation
The contract you sign with your modeling agency will likely control every aspect of your current career as a model. For this reason, it is vital that you do not sign the contract without the benefit of having it first reviewed by a Los Angeles employment attorney for models.
Unfortunately, most agencies will fail to inform models who are new to the industry that they have the right to hire a lawyer to review their contract prior to signing. They may present the contract as being a “standard” contract that is consistent with other contracts used throughout the modeling industry, but the truth is that the contract will favor the agency’s rights over yours. On top of that, the contract is typically rife with legal jargon, making the contract difficult to understand.
Your lawyer can walk you through each provision of your contract, explaining what they mean for you and identifying any potential issues. From there, they can discuss whether you should consider negotiating more favorable terms. If you decide to negotiate certain provisions of the contract, they can handle the negotiation process for you.
Contract disputes can arise even when both sides are acting in good faith. Disagreements can easily arise over the interpretation of key provisions or situations that were not contemplated by the agreement. If you cannot come to an agreement, the dispute may need to be resolved through litigation.
A Los Angeles employment attorney for models can review the dispute and determine whether you might have a valid position. They can discuss your options for proceeding with you, whether that might be terminating your contract or pursuing litigation. If you are in a dispute over your modeling contract, we strongly recommend that you seek advice from an attorney before taking any drastic steps. They can help you choose the best path forward that protects your rights, your reputation, and your future employment opportunities.
The relationship between the model, the agency, and the client is not always clear at first glance. Generally speaking, the model signs a contract with the agency, and then the agency signs a contract with the client. While the model may not have a contract with the agency, they can be caught in the middle when a dispute arises between the agency and the client. Often, this will result in withholding payment from the model. If you find yourself in the middle of a dispute between your agency and the client, a Los Angeles employment attorney for models can step in to protect your rights.
Non-compete agreements are problematic in every industry but can be especially challenging for models who depend on different agencies in order to make ends meet. In California, non-compete agreements are highly scrutinized and narrowly construed. Nonetheless, you should seek guidance from a Los Angeles employment attorney for models if your agency wants you to sign a non-compete agreement or is attempting to enforce one against you.
Wage and Hour Disputes
Models have the same rights when it comes to being fairly compensated as any other employee. Some of the most common wage and hour disputes that models encounter can include the following:
- Late payments
- Withholding of earned pay
- Reimbursement of expenses
Models often have complicated compensation structures that can make it difficult to know whether or not you are being fairly compensated. The bottom line is this: if you feel that you are being unfairly compensated, a Los Angeles employment attorney for models can review your case and determine whether you may be entitled to any unpaid compensation as well as additional penalties as well as your attorney’s fees and costs.
Employment Status Determination
How the model is classified can also raise issues. Models are often considered to be independent contractors and may even be designated as such by the terms of their contracts. The reason for this is that employers have far fewer obligations to independent contractors than they do to employees when it comes to compensation and other benefits. Under California law, the relationship between you and your modeling agency can be much more complex than it seems under the terms of your contract. In fact, California law may determine your relationship with your agency rather than the contract itself.
In short, your agency does not have the final say as to whether or not you are an employee. Determining your employment status involves a complex analysis that can have a substantial impact on how you are compensated. If you believe that you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, a Los Angeles employment attorney for models can help.
Discrimination and Harassment
Sadly discrimination and harassment are unfortunately common in the modeling industry. It is against the law to discriminate against anyone on the basis of their race, ethnicity, age, religion, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. However, in the modeling industry, this can be a complex issue as brands may be targeting certain demographics. For example, a clothing brand targeting young men would have a legitimate reason to decline to work with female or older models. On the other hand, the brand would arguably have no legitimate basis to work with models of Jewish origin.
Models are also protected from harassment under both federal and California state laws. Models who experience either “quid pro quo” harassment (harassment where employment opportunities are made contingent upon granting sexual favors) or a hostile work environment may be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation. While both harassment and discrimination claims are easy to raise, they can be notoriously difficult to prove. Contact a Los Angeles employment attorney for models if you believe you are being discriminated against or harassed.
Models who speak up about their employment issues often face retaliation. While the most common form of retaliation would be termination or not being rehired, retaliation can include any adverse action taken against you. This can include being forced to work in unfavorable conditions, given less desirable assignments, or being denied important opportunities.
Retaliation in response to standing up for your rights is against the law. If you believe you have been retaliated against, you should contact a Los Angeles employment attorney for models at your first opportunity to get help in protecting your rights and your career.
Privacy and Image Rights
As a model, you instinctively understand that the right to control the use of your image is your livelihood. Unauthorized use of your image not only undermines your value as a model but also violates your privacy as an individual.
Admittedly, models do surrender a great deal of control over their image on every job. They typically will sign a “model release” that allows the photographer to sell their image without having to ask permission each time. This is in exchange for the compensation the model receives for the shoot. Similarly, any copyright to the image is generally the property of the photographer.
That said, there could be a problem anytime someone uses your image for commercial gain without permission. While that claim may belong to the photographer, you may have a cause of action if the photographer never obtained a release from you.
Lastly, you did not surrender your privacy rights when you became a model. You can pursue legal action against anyone who tries to take your photograph or otherwise obtain your image for commercial gain without your permission. Contact a Los Angeles employment attorney for models if you believe that your privacy or image rights have been violated.
Social Media and Online Presence
Of course, the right to privacy and the use of your image has become a hot-button issue with the advent of the internet, and particularly social media. Once on the internet, photographs, videos, and other images can be easily shared, especially on social media. Models should, at a minimum, take steps to ensure that their contracts and releases address the use of websites and social media in a way that is fair and balanced.
Of course, the internet can also be used to invade your privacy. It is easy to set up a fake profile purportedly claiming to be you. You may have rights anytime someone uses your image without your permission if you can prove that it has caused you harm in some way. A Los Angeles employment attorney can help you navigate these issues and explain your options if you want to protect yourself online and on various social media platforms.
Speak with a Los Angeles Employment Attorney for Models Today
If you are facing employment issues in your modeling career, Attorneys for Employees can help you find a path forward. Contact us today to schedule an appointment, and let’s work together to find a solution to whatever problems you may be facing.