New York, NY: A $20 million unfair business practices class action lawsuit has been filed by some of America' top models against their modeling and advertising agencies including Wilhelmina, Ford and Next Management. In their lawsuit, 31-year-old American model Louisa Raske and others, allege the agencies failed to provide accurate account statements and concealed money received on behalf of the models.
The main issue, according to the lawsuit, is that the agencies mix their models' fees with agency money, which enables the agencies to use the funds on their own behalf, with "little fear of being discovered,"the lawsuit contends.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that the models aren't usually represented by one agency for the entire length of the their careers and, if, after a model has left an agency, that agency then wants to use her photograph on a particular product, the agency simply forges her signature or pretends that it had contacted the model and was "legally allowed to move forward with the business transaction,"the suit alleges. And since models aren't aware that their image is being used again, they might not know that they are owed more money and so they "never demand or receive payment."
A further allegation is that the big agencies require that the models they represent sign contracts forbidding the models to sue the agencies, and if they do file suit, they would be blacklisted in the New York modeling world. Compounding these issues, the lawsuit claims that because many models speak English as a second language, and are teenagers, they are not aware of their rights.