Our attorneys focus on holding institutions responsible for allowing abuse to occur. We typically do not handle matters involving abuse by a personal acquaintance, family member, or other individual outside of an organization.
Fashions come and go, but abuse and harassment will never be in-style, despite the prevalence of sexual assault in the fashion industry. Model Alliance conducted a survey in 2012 that reported 87% of models claimed to have been asked to take off their clothes without warning, 30% encountered inappropriate behavior on the job, and 28% were propositioned for sex while at work.
The #MeToo movement served to shine a light on sexual abuse in the entertainment industry, but fashion continues to fly just under the radar in many cases. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment in the fashion industry, it is important to understand your legal rights. There is no situation where sexual abuse should be tolerated.
Sexual Abuse in the Fashion Industry
Any type of sexual activity that is non-consensual may be considered sexual abuse. Not all abuse is physical. It could also include words or images of a sexual nature.
When referring to consent, it is important to remember that anyone who is under the age of 18, intoxicated, or incapacitated lacks the capacity to give legal consent.
There are many examples of sexual assault in the fashion industry, though more often than not, abusers seem to receive nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
Here are a few prominent claims of fashion industry sexual abuse:
- Alexander Wang – In 2020, Wang was accused of sexual abuse, including drugging, assaulting, and harassing 11 men and trans women. Most of the alleged incidents are claimed to have taken place in LGBTQ nightclubs.
- Paul Marciano – The Guess clothing co-founder has faced a series of sexual harassment accusations dating back to 1983 and recently paid out $1 million total to two former Guess models.
- Mario Testino – The popular male fashion photographer was accused of sexual abuse of 13 male assistants and models who claimed he groped them or masturbated in front of them during shoots.
- Gerald Marie – In total, 16 women have come forward with rape or assault allegations against Marie, who was a popular French modeling agent in the 1980s.
- Rick Day – The fashion photographer has been accused of sexual assault of teenage male models on two occasions but continues to work in the industry.
- Marcus Hyde – This A-list celebrity photographer was outed for his behavior after text message screenshots were released in which he stated that nude shots were free, but it would cost more to have clothes on.
It is worth noting that none of these aforementioned accused abusers struck only once. After a sexual predator realizes that their victims are likely to stay quiet, there is no reason for them to stop the behavior.
Laws Against Sexual Abuse in the Fashion Industry
According to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, sexual harassment in the fashion industry is a form of discrimination. Employers are obligated to ensure a harassment-free work environment for all employees, and failing to do so could result in liability for the harassment.
Not only can a claim be brought against the perpetrator, but it can also be brought against the company they work for. Employers can be held liable if:
- They knew or should have known about the abuse;
- They did not take reasonable measures to prevent or correct the behavior; or
- The harassment resulted in the survivor’s termination, loss of wages, or failure to be promoted.
Employers are expected to do their due diligence during the hiring process to ensure those they hire, whether full employees, part-time, or contractors, do not put others at risk. They must also respond appropriately to any accusations of misconduct.
For example, Guess took action to remove co-founder Marciano from the company in response to allegations of sexual abuse.
Hold Abusers Accountable
If you suffered sexual assault or harassment due to the negligence of your employer or another institution, you can hold the them accountable by filing a claim. Contact Boucher LLP today for a free consultation.Contact Us
Filing a Claim for Sexual Assault in the Fashion Industry
Survivors of fashion industry sexual abuse may choose to file a civil lawsuit, press criminal charges, or both depending on the circumstances of the claim.
An experienced sexual abuse attorney can help determine the best legal strategy according to the facts of your case and the evidence available.
A civil lawsuit offers sexual abuse survivors the opportunity to obtain compensation for the trauma they have endured. Though no amount of money can erase the experience and its effects, it does serve as a form of punishment for the abuser and a way to bring their behavior to light.
California Statute of Limitations for Fashion Industry Sexual Abuse
In California, there is no statute of limitations for pressing criminal charges on a sexual assault case. The current statute of limitations for a civil sexual abuse case for adults is ten years from the date the incident occurred or within three years from the date the survivor discovered an injury resulting from the abuse, whichever is later.
If the survivor was abused as a minor, they have up to the age of 40 or five years after discovering the psychological injury from the abuse, whichever is later.
It is important to work with your attorney to investigate the date of the incident and ensure that you are within the statute of limitations. As with all lawsuits, the sooner you can start the legal process, the better.
Choosing to file a lawsuit against your abuser can be intimidating, but it can also be healing on many levels. You deserve the peace of knowing that the truth has been exposed.
The experienced sexual abuse attorneys at Boucher LLP have an in-depth understanding of the California legal system and how to navigate sexual abuse cases. Our attorneys have extensive experience fighting for survivors of abuse.
In the past five years, we have recovered over $500 million for our clients, and though each case is unique, we are consistent in providing zealous, compassionate representation. Contact us to schedule a case consultation.