According to model Eva Agerbrink, a New York modeling agency has gone too far in its attempt to wring money from its talent. In her class action lawsuit against MSA Models, the 48-year old plaintiff claims that the agency, like many others, illegally evaded state and federal wage and hour laws by claiming that its models were “independent contractors.” The agency also penalized models when clients they modeled for failed to pay the agency. Its practice was to deduct 20 percent from models’ commissions and also to charge the clients who hired them 20 percent. If a client didn’t pay, they deducted funds from the model.
Agerbrink says that, relying on such practices, MSA deducted 35 percent of Agerbrink’s earnings for work she did modeling for the QVC shopping network.
Her complaint against MSA Models and its owner accuses them of minimum wage and overtime violations.
She also says that when, without the agency’s help, she found and accepted an in-house position as an administrative assistant and model with Cache, a nationwide specialty retailer, MSA demanded a percentage. The agency served her with papers claiming the right to $17,946 in wages from her new job.
Agerbrink claims she has lost tens of thousands of dollars in the course of her three-year contract with MSA and is seeking unpaid wages and other damages. Models generally are not paid all the wages they have earned, she says, because of their weak bargaining position.
Agerbrink has a colorful past as a model and actress. She played the part of a stripper in a movie and was involved in a love-triangle that made gossip pages when one of her lovers allegedly threatened another with a baseball bat. Even so, her plight is no different from that of workers who rely on staffing agencies in less glamorous industries.
If you have been classified as an independent contractor when you are actually an employee, or if you feel a staffing company is unfairly deducting too much from your earnings, you may have a claim under federal and state wage and overtime laws. Thomas M. Lancia can help you recover the back pay and damages to which you are entitled. Call (212)964-3157 for a consultation today.