Models Have the Right to Get Paid and on Time, or Else


It’s been 13 years today since the California Supreme Court made L’Oreal pay a model $15,000 because it delayed paying her the $500 she earned for two months.

Here’s what happened:

Plaintiff Amanza Smith was working as a salesperson in a Beverly Hills boutique when a representative of defendant L'Oreal USA, Inc., approached her and asked if she would like to be a “hair model” at an upcoming show featuring L'Oreal products and a hair stylist. After plaintiff attended a modeling call, defendant agreed to pay her $500 for one day's work at the show.

At the show, plaintiff sat on a stage in front of an audience as her hair was colored and styled. She then walked a runway a few times. Plaintiff stayed at the show until she was told she could leave. Defendant did not immediately pay plaintiff the $500 in wages it owed her, but waited over two months to do so.

She sued. She ultimately won.

But still models today (as well as a lot of other workers) don’t get paid on time. In the modeling industry, as others, the excuse is I’ll pay you when I get paid. But that’s not your problem. When people take extra risk, they should get extra pay. If the model only gets paid when the photographer gets paid, then the model should get paid like a partner, not a worker. But the photographer doesn’t give the model the rights to the photos and doesn’t give a cut of the profits! That’s because the model is the worker, and the agency or the photographer or the client is the boss.

So still, 13 years later, models still don’t get paid on time. Maybe because they don’t realize they have the right to and probably because they don’t want to risk not getting more work, which are all fair risks.

But if you want to get paid, you can.

This is an old subject, but one that came to my mind because I realized that today is the same day that the Supreme Court came down with this decision 13 years ago that made a big difference to a lot of California employees, including a lot of employee’s I’ve represented.

If you want to know what company lawyers (those who represent modeling agencies and photographers) are thinking, you can look to a good article here:

If that article doesn’t sound familiar to you, it may be because what’s happening to you is simply illegal.


About the author
Kenneth Yoon is the founder Yoon Law, APC.