Being a model may seem like a glamorous job, but, behind the scenes, it seems to be a different story. Many models in Texas and across the country may be dealing with the same issues as Nekesha McCary. She claims she is owed back wages because she was inappropriately classified as an independent contractor instead of as an employee.
The model began working for Direct Model Management in 2009. Her conditions for being employed by the agency allegedly included her being locked into an exclusive contract that prohibited her from working for other agencies. She also was told how she should appear for her clients and where she was to go for her photo shoots.
According to her complaint, modeling agencies have misclassified their models to increase their profits and have subsequently cheated the models out of millions of dollars. Because most models are classified as independent contractors, agencies are not required to provide worker's compensation insurance, and the models are not paid minimum wage or overtime. Furthermore, she claims modeling agencies mislabel themselves as management agencies instead of employment agencies to get around labor laws and give them the ability to collect increased fees.
In her complaint she is asking the court to award her back wages in excess of $30,000, as well as other damages. The way in which people are classified directly impacts the way in which they are paid, along with their eligibility for protection under state and federal employment laws. Texas workers who feel that they have been classified incorrectly may elect to file claims against their employers. In successful cases, the workers may receive lost wages and related damages, as well as have the court order the companies to change their classifications to prevent issues going forward.
Source: New York Daily News, "Model Nekesha McCary sues her agency for labeling her as independent contractor", Barbara Ross, April 16, 2015