NEW YORK, NY, Sept. 22, 2016 – Statement of Terry O’Neill, National NOW President; Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority President; and Sonia Ossorio, NOW-New York President
The National Organization for Women (NOW) and Feminist Majority are calling on Donald Trump to shut down Trump Model Management until disturbing allegations about the agency’s treatment of girls and young women have been thoroughly investigated.
Our groups are launching the #WomenWant2Know campaign to raise questions that need to be answered by Donald Trump and pursued by the media because women’s lives and well-being are at stake.
Donald Trump attempts to portray himself as a friend to U.S. workers and to women, but models who formerly worked for Trump Model Management described exploitative working conditions. According to Mother Jones, Trump Model Management recruited aspiring models from around the globe—some as young as 14 years old. Three former Trump models said they worked without proper visas, were coached in evading immigration rules, and were required to pay exorbitant rents, as much as $1,600 per month, each, for a bunk in a two-bedroom apartment with five other people (at times, up to 11 others).
Models told Mother Jones that they felt exploited and “ripped off” by the company. One even went so far as to call her time there “modern day slavery.” Another said the working conditions at Trump Model Management made her feel “like a slave.”
One model who described being coached on how to lie to immigration officials said “Going through customs for this trip was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life.” In another case, model Alexia Palmer told CNN Money that Trump’s agency never paid her the amount they promised on her immigration documents — which attorneys and other experts said “appears to have violated immigration law.”
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U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer has called on the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor to open an investigation into Trump Model Management’s employment practices and allegations that the company violated immigration laws. In her letter to the Labor Department, Sen. Boxer noted that “a Trump Model Management executive acknowledged that violations of the law may have occurred ‘many, many years ago.’ However, media reports indicate that immigration and labor violations took place within the last five years.”
We agree a federal inquiry is necessary to get to the bottom of these extremely troubling allegations. But in the meantime, Donald Trump must close Trump Model Management until we can figure out what is going on.