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September 21, 2022

New York Bill Would Expand Fashion, Entertainment Industry Labor Protections

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In response to growing demands to overhaul the fashion industry's labor practices, the New York State Legislature recently considered the New York Fashion Workers Act—an amendment to the state's labor law—that would significantly expand labor protections for those in the fashion and entertainment industry.

The bill (SB8638/A09762) advanced out of the Senate Labor Committee, but it ultimately failed to receive a final floor vote in the final days of the latest legislative session. Below are some of the more significant amendments to the labor law the bill proposed:

  1. Management companies would have a formal fiduciary duty to any model or creative that the management company manages, procures or attempts to manage.
  2. Commissions made by model and creative management companies would be capped at 20% of a model's or creative's pay.
  3. Models, photographers and other creative talent would have to be paid no more than 45 days after completion of a job. In addition, funds would have to be deposited in a client trust account for safekeeping.
  4. Management companies would have to notify former talent in writing should the management company collect royalties from talent they no longer represent.
  5. Management companies would have to register with the New York State Department of Labor (the Department) and deposit a $50,000 surety bond with the Department.
  6. In the case of a dispute with a client regarding late or non-payment of services rendered, the management company would pay the talent and keep payment from the client when the dispute is resolved.

While the bill was not signed into law during the 2022 session, it is unlikely that these proposed changes are going away entirely. Employers in the entertainment and fashion industry should be prepared for a revival of this bill next year. McDermott Will & Emery will continue to monitor these proposals and is available to advise clients who are interested in preparing for these changes.

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