Fashion Law Back On Capitol Hill--
Now this is fashion law! Following many attempts (and surely more to come) to get protection for fashion designs, there is a new push for legislation in the fashion industry. U.S. Representative Grace Meng (D-New York) has filed the Child Performers Protection Act of 2015. Never before have we seen child labor standards of this sort at the federal level.
Being a patchwork of regulations across the state for so many years, child labor regulations could now see national standards. Representative Meng's billl, H.R. 3383, amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, updating child labor standards for performers including actors and models. The legislation prohibits employers or contractors from: (1) employing any child performer unless a trust is set up to receive at least 15% of their earnings, (before accepting work) to be held inaccessible until they reach the age of 18; and (2) compensating a child performer in any form besides cash wages, exclusive of board, lodging, or facilities. Accepting in-kind payment is great sometimes, but it should definitely be a mere bonus. It'll never pay for college or be a base for financial security and good savings habits. Anyone working should be compensated--no matter the age. So many brands make more than enough to properly compensate their coveted talent.
As a legislative lawyer, I am excited to see this issue before the legislature. It is a long time coming, even with the Council of Fashion Designers of America having offered guidelines on model treatment for sometime now. Always an industry leader, CFDA has offered a strong health initiative, with self-imposed rules to bar models under 16 from runway shows, educate on eating disorders and empower positive body images, and offer fitness education as well. Designer and Boss role model Diane von Furstenberg has made her own pushes for fair and appropriate treatment of models, most recently during fashion week. Surely this foundation will be helpful in passing H.R. 3383. While few bills pass any legislature as they arrive, this bill takes a great step forward in parity and standardization in the fashion industry. Protecting models and easing the labor challenges and disparities is a much-needed step forward.
The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. We'll be watching.
For more on labor issues in the fashion industry, check out these posts: