April 17, 2014

The New Catwalk Experience: New York Tightens Laws for Underage Models

Last week, New York toughened its child labor law protections for models under the age of 18 by passing New York Senate Bill No. 5486. Signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the law is set to go into effect within the next month and will significantly impact designers in preparing for New York Fashion Week 2014. The law will be enforced by the Department of Labor and expands the definition of child performers to include the services of runway and print models. The underage models will now be governed by the same labor protections afforded to child actors (see prior blog article here).

Before the passing, young models were regulated by the Department of Education with minimal protections such as work hour limitations.

The new requirements include:

  • Underage models cannot work earlier than 5 A.M., later than 10 P.M. on school nights, or later than 12:30 A.M. on non-school nights. In addition, the models may not return to work less than 12 hours after they leave.

  • An on-site pediatric nurse must be accessible at all times.

  • Models under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult chaperone at all times.

  • Parents or guardians of underage models must create a trust account fund whereby employers will transfer a minimum of 15% of the child’s gross earnings.

  • Employers must set aside time and a dedicated space for instruction for the child. In some cases, they will be required to provide teachers as well.

  • Paperwork and record maintenance by employers.

  • Parents and guardians must receive a detailed work schedule on the days that the young models work

Employers who violate the rule will be subject to sanctions between $1,000 - $3,000.

Reactions to the law have been largely positive. “I know all too well that, until now, underage models have worked with very few legal protections in New York.... When I started modeling [at the age of 15], I traveled to many places alone, without a chaperone, or any real legal right. I’m so glad that’s changing for children – and they are children – in the future,” said model Coco Rocha at the press conference announcing the law’s passing.

Copyright © 2014, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.

About the Author

Robert A. Darwell, Entertainment, Technology, Advertising, Attorney, Sheppard

Robert Darwell heads the firm's internationally acclaimed Transactional Entertainment, Technology and Advertising Practice Group, which was recently ranked by U.S. Legal 500 in its top tier. He is a partner in the firm's Century City and New York offices. Mr. Darwell enjoys a global practice representing major motion picture studios, television networks, independent producers, new media companies, financial institutions, investors, financiers and other institutional and individual entertainment, media and convergence clients around the world in connection with...


About the Author


Theodore C. Max is a member in the Entertainment, Media and Technology and Intellectual Property practice groups in the New York office, where he focuses on counseling clients on intellectual property issues and litigation. He is co-leader of the firm's Fashion and Apparel team. Mr. Max combines his skill and experience as a trial attorney with his knowledge of copyright, trademark and intellectual property law in servicing the firm's diverse clientele.


Mr. Komen is a partner in the Entertainment, Media & Communications and Intellectual Property Practice Groups in the firm's Washington, D.C. office while spending significant time in the Century City office. His global practice includes all aspects of copyright, trademark and unfair competition law, with a particular emphasis on motion picture, media, advertising and technology companies. He practices extensively before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the United States Copyright Office.


About the Author

James A. Mercer III, corporate attorney with Sheppard Mullin law firm

Mr. Mercer is a partner in the Corporate Practice Group in the firm's London and Del Mar offices.

Mr. Mercer practices in the area of corporate law, with an emphasis in representing emerging growth companies in securities transactions and mergers and acquisitions.


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