Meng Introduces Legislation to Create First Federal Protections for Child Models and Actors
Sep 7, 2017
Congresswoman’s bill would establish safeguards for kids in the television, film and modeling industries
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With Fashion Week kicking off in New York City today, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) reintroduced the Child Performer Protection Act (H.R. 3691), a bill that would create the first federal workplace protections for child actors and models in the film, television and modeling industries.
Although the Fair Labor Standards Act sets employment criteria for children in the U.S., child performers and models are not covered by the law. Instead, safeguards for minors in the entertainment and modeling industries are left up to individual states, many of which offer few protections. As a result, child actors and models often stand to be – and have been – exploited, manipulated and mistreated.
“We must do all we can to protect our kids and keep them out of harm’s way and that includes safeguarding children that work as actors and models,” said Meng. “For too long, kids in entertainment and modeling industries have not been adequately protected in the workplace and it’s way past time for that to change. This legislation would finally accomplish that goal by shielding vulnerable child performers from workplace abuses that they constantly face and in many cases have been forced to endure. Only a federal law, rather than a patchwork of different state laws, can sufficiently protect these children throughout the entire country. I urge my colleagues in Congress to pass this important bill.”
Meng’s legislation would create a federal baseline of protections that child performers would be entitled to nationwide. These basic and common sense safeguards include:
· Establishing a maximum number of hours that child models and actors can continuously work. Restrictions level off based on age (see bill for specifics; link is below)
Although many child workers have maximum work hour protections set by the Fair Labor Standards Act or state laws, numerous child performers and independent contractors are exempt.
· Requiring that compensation be provided in cash wages
Presently, runway models are sometimes not fairly compensated for their work and are instead paid with unusable clothes or handbags that were worn in fashion shows.
· Requiring that 15% of a child’s earnings be placed in a trust account until the child turns 18 (unless a financial need for the money is demonstrated)
This provision is modeled after similar laws in California and New York, states with thriving entertainment industries. The intent is to prevent parents from taking the money earned by their child.
· Creating a private right of action for kids who are sexually harassed; allowing children to sue their employers if sexually harassed while on the job.
To see a copy of the legislation, click here.
Meng is a founder and Co-Chair of the Kids Safety Caucus, the first bipartisan coalition in the House – that she helped launch in 2013 – which promotes child-safety issues.