Almost 30 Percent of Fashion Models Report On-the-Job Sexual Harassment
Just because the people are pretty, it doesn’t mean that their behavior always is; nearly 30 percent of models report that they have been the victims of job-related sexual harassment. A recent survey conducted by the Model Alliance – a modeling industry labor organization – finds that approximately one-third of models report that they have been touched inappropriately while on shoots. Nearly the same number report that they have been pressured to have sex with someone on the job. Tragically, many of the models fear reprisal from their agents or managers and do not report their treatment, so the real number of harassment victims could be much higher.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
According to the Equal Rights Advocates, a women’s rights advocacy group, sexually harassing behavior has four common elements:
- It is unwelcome (if the behavior is solicited or accepted, then it is not “unwelcome”)
- It is of a sexual nature (this includes verbal, visual and physical acts including such varied things as telling dirty jokes, patting someone’s rear or having a graphic screensaver on a work computer)
- It is severe or pervasive (a single instance of sexual innuendo or one unwanted date request usually does not rise to the level or harassment)
- It affects working conditions and/or creates a hostile work environment (this can range from making a victim uncomfortable around coworkers to meaning that the victim loses out on promotions or raises and other employment-related opportunities)
Is Sexual Harassment Against the Law?
Absolutely. Sexually harassing behavior violates both federal and California state laws. These laws are meant to protect victims from unwelcome sexual advances and behavior from coworkers, supervisors, clients/customers and other people regularly encountered on the job.
Since sexual harassment is against the law, employers have a duty to both prevent it and to stop it once they are aware it has occurred. It is vitally important, though, if you are a victim of sexual harassment, that you inform your employer immediately. Once you put your employer on notice that you have been harassed, he or she is under a legal duty to take action.
It might be possible for a victim of harassment to bring a civil lawsuit for damages caused by the harassment. The damages can include everything from lost employment opportunities to pain and suffering related to the stress involved in dealing with workplace impropriety.
If you or a loved one is the victim of on-the-job sexual harassment, tell your supervisor/manager as soon as possible, document your experiences in writing and do everything you can to discourage the behavior. After telling your employer or union, the consider speaking with a skilled Los Angeles employment lawyer to learn more about your legal rights and options you may have.