Meng Seeks to Create Protections for Child Models and Actors
MENG SEEKS TO CREATE PROTECTIONS FOR CHILD MODELS AND ACTORS
In the wake of the recent Fashion Week in New York City, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) announced today that she has introduced the Child Performer Protection Act (H.R. 3383), legislation that would create the first federal protections for children who work as 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, the regulation of minors in the entertainment industry is 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.
“Working as a child model or actor can be an incredible opportunity, and lead to success for a lifetime,” said Meng. “However, the work can come with much risk. Sometimes kids are asked to undress in front of others or are put in compromising positions at a young age. Some reality shows have children being filmed while changing clothes or going to the bathroom. Young performers can also have their earnings taken by their parents, leaving them with nothing when they turn 18. Although there are a patchwork of disparate state laws, these regulations offer inconsistent protections. That’s why we need a national standard; a federal law that would finally ensure that children in acting and modeling are adequately protected. I look forward to continuing to work with the many stakeholders involved to bring the best possible protections to children.”
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 attached bill for specifics).
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).
The 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.
“No child in the competitive and adult world of acting and modeling should ever be at risk because of the state they’re working in, their lack of union representation or predatory adults,” Meng added. “We must provide increased safeguards for kids in these industries, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to make it happen by passing this bill.”
The Child Performer Protection Act has been referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, where it is awaiting further action.
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.
To see a copy of the bill, click here.