BuzzFeed recently published an explosive article that provides information about the many allegations of unethical and illegal behavior by Los Angeles-based Unruly Agency. The talent agency has been accused of numerous transgressions: using deception to convince content creators to sign with Unruly, later threatening to sue clients for supposed contract breaches, taking control of clients’ personal bank accounts, and leaking nude photos of clients. All of this has left content creators who sign with Unruly feeling powerless and trapped.
BuzzFeed: Unruly Agency and Behave Agency Accused of Exploiting Online Content Creators
Unruly Agency is a major content marketing agency that represents a number of different influencers on OnlyFans and other social media platforms. Unruly also runs the Behave Agency, another online content management company with operations in Los Angeles. A large part of what Unruly and Behave do involves the day-to-day management of OnlyFans accounts belonging to content creators. This includes selling online content such as videos and photos, publicizing the creators’ work, and responding to messages sent by fans.
Given the staggering rise in the number of subscription-only platforms on the internet in the past few years, the market for online content creators has never been more competitive. Unruly has been able to capitalize on this by positioning itself as a reputable, reliable agency that is passionate about serving its clients. In fact, one of Unruly’s main selling points is that they can help content creators grow their brand by allowing them to reach a larger audience, which will translate into more followers and increased revenue.
For its story on Unruly, BuzzFeed News interviewed no fewer than 18 people and reviewed various documents reportedly showing that the talent agency was often misleading both clients and workers when it came to the details of contracts that were signed. At least two models who signed with Unruly said that company officials waived off their concerns about contract provisions by claiming that they were merely formalities. When the models attempted to get out of the contracts, however, those provisions were suddenly binding.
OnlyFans Models Hire Tauler Smith LLP for Legal Action Against Unruly Agency
Two former clients of Unruly recently enlisted the legal team at Tauler Smith LLP to represent them in civil suits against the talent agency. Both clients are young models whose lives were nearly ruined by Unruly. L.A. social media litigator Robert Tauler filed suit on behalf of the women in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeking damages and injunctive relief.
Tauler called the typical Unruly contract “a Frankenstein of the worst provisions I’ve seen put together in one contract.” He said the contract is clearly unlawful, and that its main purpose appears to be to manipulate and gain leverage over the young women who make the mistake of signing with Unruly Agency.
Generally speaking, Unruly’s contracts are exploitative and grant the talent agency an unreasonable amount of control over clients’ personal lives. For example, several clients were locked into contracts with automatic renewal provisions. These legally questionable provisions basically forced the models to stay with the agency for at least three (3) years. Additionally, at least one contract used by Behave Agency gave the company authority to take out a life insurance policy on a client, as well as requiring the client to share private medical information with the agency.
OnlyFans Creators Say They Were Victims of Intimidation & Threats by Unruly Agency
One theme that runs throughout the many allegations made against Unruly Agency in the BuzzFeed article is that the company bullies and scares young female models, influencers, and online celebrities. Amia Miley, a former client of Unruly/Behave, said that many of the girls who sign with the agency are worried about retaliation, so they simply don’t say anything.
One OnlyFans model who did speak up said that the company pressured her to publish sexually explicit content on the internet even after she made it clear that she was not comfortable doing so. Remarkably, Unruly and its founders, Tara Niknejad and Nicky Gathrite, actually promote the agency as a strong advocate for female empowerment and women’s rights.
The young models interviewed by BuzzFeed News made several allegations of improper behavior and illegal conduct by Unruly Agency, including the following:
- Unruly uses deceptive recruitment practices. One of the allegations against Unruly is that the talent agency uses misleading tactics and high-pressure sales pitches to convince content creators to sign long-term contracts.
- The contracts signed by clients are unclear. The contracts that some clients signed allegedly included terms that conflicted with the terms discussed during contract negotiations with Unruly agents. For example, clients have reported specific details missing from the written contracts after Unruly had explicitly agreed to those details in conversations.
- Unruly uses the threat of costly lawsuits to intimidate clients. Once an OnlyFans creator signs with Unruly, they are locked into what some are calling an exploitative contract. If the client later wants to opt out of the contract and leave the agency, they are reportedly threatened with a six-figure lawsuit that could cause financial ruin.
- Unruly publishes nude images without consent. At least one OnlyFans model has accused Unruly of secretly taking nude photographs of her while she was changing clothes during a photo shoot. Moreover, the model says that the agency later released those nude images on social media without her knowledge or consent.
- Unruly takes control of clients’ personal bank accounts. Multiple models said that Unruly switched out the banking information on their OnlyFans accounts, essentially replacing the client bank account with the agency’s bank account. As a result, Unruly initially gets all of the income generated on OnlyFans, and then the clients are entirely dependent on the talent agency to pay out any money earned. Additionally, at least one client said that the agency was repeatedly late when it came to making payments.
Unruly Agency Also Accused of Exploiting Workers and Committing Wage Theft
According to the BuzzFeed investigation of Unruly Agency’s business practices, the company’s exploitative tactics are not limited to just clients. A number of current and former workers for Unruly have accused the agency of violating California employment laws by misclassifying the employees as independent contractors so that they could illegally underpay them. At least six (6) workers are reportedly planning to file lawsuits against Unruly for wage theft.
Contact Los Angeles Social Media Lawyer Robert Tauler
Although the BuzzFeed article focuses on alleged abuses of power and unlawful conduct by Unruly Agency, it also serves to highlight a broader problem among many talent agencies in California that routinely take advantage of OnlyFans creators, Instagram models, and other social media influencers. If you are a content creator or influencer who has been exploited by a talent agency, Los Angeles social media litigator Robert Tauler and the Tauler Smith LLP legal team can help you. Call 310-590-3927 or submit the contact form.