Donald Trump’s primary wins have been overshadowed by a troubling lawsuit from a model who was allegedly treated like a slave during her employment with his modeling imprint.
According to ABC News, Alexia Palmer, 21, is suing Trump Model Management for $225,000 for racketeering, breach of contract, mail fraud, and violating wage laws for immigrants after she signed to the agency at 17 and was promised an annual income of $75,000.
Instead, Palmer found herself making $4,985 over three years and was charged an extra $4,000 administrative fee on top of a 20 percent deduction for management fees. The model was discovered at a talent show by a local agency in Jamaica. Palmer and her lawyer, Naresh Gehi claim Trump’s company violated immigration laws by issuing her the popular H-1B work visa and didn’t deliver the high wage she was promised.
Because of her work visa, she couldn’t be employed anywhere else if she wanted to stay in the states. “That’s what slavery people do,” Palmer told ABC News Thursday (Mar. 10) “You work and don’t get no money. I was very excited because all the girls in Jamaica wanted to be signed with an agency [in New York],” she said. “When I went there, they were telling me… I’m going to sign with an agency and my life is going to change.”
Trump’s camp however, has blamed the lack of pay to Palmer as the struggle of the fashion industry, claiming she wasn’t a popular model. “Anything she’s saying about being treated as a slave is completely untrue,” Trump’s attorney, Alan Garten, said. “The greater demand for the model, the better that model does. In the case of the individual you’re talking about, there wasn’t — unfortunately — a lot of demand for the model.”
Michael Wildes, the attorney who issued H-1B visas for a number of Trump’s models, says the promise of $75,000 was “aspirational.”
“Our position is the application was proper when filed,” Wildes said. “They anticipated an employer-employee relationships. Circumstances changed, and now they’re going to duke it out.”
Palmer also claims the agency forced her to pay for her own walking lessons and a $200 dermatology appointment.
Currently, Gehi is waiting for more Trump models to come forward in hopes of a collective class-action suit. Founded in 1999, the agency brings in $1 million to $5 million in annual earnings. The presidential candidate met his third wife, Melina in 2000 after she was employed by the company.