Model Alliance Urges Gov Hochul to Support Adult Survivors Act + Labor Protections @ NY Fashion Week

Hochul slated to attend the Prabal Gurung Show tonight after MA launches petition pushing Legislature and industry

NEW YORK, NY (09/08/2021) (readMedia)-- Governor Kathy Hochul is slated to kick-off New York Fashion Week by attending the Prabal Gurung show later today. In response, Model Alliance Founder and ED Sara Ziff urged the Governor to support stronger industry regulations to protect workers, and get behind the Adult Survivors Act. The ASA would provide time-barred survivors of sexual abuse with a one-year lookback window to sue their abuser -- or the institution that protected them -- in civil court. The bill passed the New York State Senate unanimously in June, but has failed to get a vote in the Assembly.

"As Governor Hochul shows up to support New York Fashion Week tonight, the Model Alliance is urging her to also show her support for the Adult Survivors Act and meaningful labor protections for models, who continue to experience rampant sexual abuse at work. Hochul has a real opportunity to turn the page on the Cuomo years not only in terms of government, but across major economic sectors of New York like Fashion: a trillion dollar industry that profits handily off the labor of the workers it refuses to protect. We need both legislative and regulatory reform, and we look to the state's first female Governor to lead on both," said Sara Ziff, Founder and Executive Director of the Model Alliance.

"Kathy Hochul, our first female governor, has an opportunity to show survivors that she sees and cares about us by pushing the Adult Survivors Act through and letting time-barred survivors come forward for justice. I join the Model Alliance in calling for companies in the fashion world to adopt the legally-binding RESPECT Program - and I urge Governor Hochul to use her new platform to join in advocating for a safer, more equitable fashion industry," said Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou.

The call comes the same day that the Model Alliance launched a petition -- signed by Beverly Johnson, Milla Jovovich, Tatjana Patitz, Carré Otis, Cindi Leivi, and others -- urging the New York Legislature to pass the Adult Survivors Act (ASA) and for companies and agencies to sign onto the Model Alliance's RESPECT program. Last month, Carré and the Model Alliance called on Elite World Group CEO and Netflix reality star Julia Haart to commit to the concrete, enforceable measures offered by the program. EWG and Haart -- who has branded herself as a champion for women and a safe industry on her show "My Unorthodox Life" -- have previously failed to sign on, and did not commit to doing so in the future.

The Model Alliance joined Leadership Council Member and survivor Carré Otis and other survivors yesterday as they testified against their abuser, former President of Elite Europe Gérald Marie. All the women who have come forward are outside the statute of limitations in France. Carré filed a civil case through New York's Child Victims Act last month against Marie and the agent who sent her to live with him at 17 before the window closed. Marie's behavior was known throughout Elite -- now owned by Haart's EWG -- when she was sent to France. Across the globe, restrictive statutes of limitation do not reflect the lived reality of sexual violence and effectively serve to protect abusers like Marie, who has yet to face any consequences for abusing at least two dozen women 30 years ago. Marie is still involved with Oui Model Management.

Supermodel and former First Lady of France Carla Bruni, Milla Jovovich, Tatjana Patitz, Karen Elson, Paulina Porizkova and others spoke out in support of Carré and the survivors testifying, as the New York Times reported yesterday.

About the RESPECT Program

Born of the direct experience and unique understanding that models have of the industry, the RESPECT Program is the first-of-its-kind initiative, designed to enable a working environment in which creative collaboration and self-expression flourish, and everyone can work without fear of harassment, abuse, discrimination or violence. Unlike other industry programs that rely on voluntary self-regulation, the RESPECT Program uses legally-binding agreements to create enforceable standards and hold bad actors and enabling institutions accountable.

Hailed by the United Nations and Harvard Business Review, the worker-driven social responsibility approach used by the RESPECT Program requires the following from participating companies, brands and agencies:

  • Implement a rigorous Code of Conduct to protect models from harassment and abuse.
  • Train models, staff, and other contractors to ensure that everyone understands their rights and responsibilities under the Program, including how to bring complaints if they experience abuse.
  • Sign a legally-binding agreement with the Model Alliance to ensure compliance with the Program's standards. Serious repeated violations will result in companies terminating their business relationships with the offending individual.
  • Ensure all models are paid for their work in a timely manner, without unreasonable fees and with transparency concerning any and all wage deductions

The Program includes an independent, transparent enforcement body to monitor the workplace and address complaints of harassment, as well as a safe, confidential and accessible complaint mechanism, which models can use without fear of retaliation.