Model Ondria Hardin (pictured above) made headlines when she hit the runway for Marc Jacobs in 2012 when she was 15 years old. She's just one example of the frequency with which young models work in the fashion industry. Well, the topic of underage models has made its way to Congress, as Representative Grace Meng of New York recently introduced the Child Performers Protection Act of 2015, a bill intended to extend federal workplace regulations to young industry professionals, including models.
The New York Times’s Vanessa Friedman, writes: While the Fair Labor Standards Act set employment criteria for children working in the U.S., "child performers and models are often exempted, and the regulation of performers younger than 16 is handled on a state-by-state basis. Though some states, such as New York and California, have passed legislation specifically intended to protect child performers (not surprisingly, given both are centers of the entertainment industry), policy is not uniform. Indeed, New York extended its protections specifically to models only in 2013."
The new bill, which is currently in the hands of the Committee on Education and the Work Force (and arguably will be for quite awhile now), would establish specific working hours, salary requirements (underage models will not longer be paid in "trade" (read: clothing) in lieu of actual monetary compensation), and it would offer private recourse for sexual harassment.