Testimony on Harassment

Jeff Trexler and Professor Scafidi testifying before the New York City Council

Professor Scafidi & Jeff Trexler testified on fashion and sexual harassment reform before the New York City Council and the Fashion Law Institute is sharing their written testimony!

Testimony presented to the New York City Council

Committee on Women jointly with the Committee on Civil & Human Rights

February 28, 2018
Like film and television, the fashion industry is currently rife with reports of sexual harassment. From Harvey Weinstein’s alleged use of Project Runway as a vehicle for predatory activity to reports of male models being harassed by photographers, certain stereotypical behaviors in the fashion workplace are finally of public concern. There is far more to the story of the industry’s experience, however, than salacious tales of beautiful people in ugly situations.
Since our inception, the Fashion Law Institute has been working with individuals at all levels of the industry, as well as with fashion companies and related organizations, on ways to address this vital issue. Through our monthly pro bono Fashion Law Pop-Up Clinics alone, we have assisted designers and models, skilled workers and students, employees and independent contractors. We believe that, just as fashion was at the cutting edge of labor reform a century ago due to the industry’s need to address its own failings in the area of health and safety, the modern fashion industry and its reform efforts can serve as an instructive model.
Our research and experience at the confluence of fashion, law, and academia leads us to focus on the following four primary ways in which the current outcry can be transformed into more effective laws and policies:
  • Extending the scope of protection to a wider range of participants in the workplace,
  • Increasing transparency via corporate reporting while preserving individual privacy,
  • Reducing the stigma and adverse career effects of filing even a successful claim, and
  • Establish a working group to discuss innovation in sexual harassment legal reform.
    From behind the seams to runway to retail, the industry is already taking action to increase transparency and expand the scope of protection, and we believe the next step is to reduce the career consequences and stigma of speaking up. We would like to thank the New York City Council Committee on Women and Committee on Civil & Human Rights for the invitation to testify and for their longstanding commitment to eradicating sexual harassment, and we look forward to continuing to work together.