Lawsuit against Trump model agency dismissed by U.S. judge

(This story corrects date of election to Nov. 8 from Nov. 3 in eighth paragraph)

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) afternoon general session in Washington March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit against Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s modeling agency, saying there was insufficient evidence a foreign-born model had been misled or was owed back pay.

U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres found that Alexia Palmer had not provided proof that Trump Model Management LLC fraudulently applied for a U.S. visa for her or that she had been denied fair wages.

Attorneys for both Palmer and the modeling agency could not be immediately reached for comment.

Lawyers for Trump, who owns the agency but was not named directly in the suit, have called the case “frivolous” and “without merit.”

Palmer, a Jamaica native, sued in October 2014, alleging that for her three-year contract with the agency, she was promised a $75,000-a-year salary, but received just $3,880.75. She sought $250,000 in back pay.

The lawsuit also alleged Palmer’s experience was part of a grander scheme to “lure foreign models to the United States” and cheat them out of their pay.

But Torres said there was not enough evidence to prove that Palmer had worked the requisite number of hours over the three years to justify a minimum hourly wage complaint or warrant back pay.

The case’s dismissal was a setback for attorneys who sought to bring a class action against the agency on behalf of models. A group lawsuit could have drawn additional attention to Trump’s employment of foreign-born workers as he seeks the Republican nomination for the Nov. 8 election.

Trump, a billionaire New York businessman, has acknowledged legally using foreign workers in his businesses but has said his experience would allow him to reform a visa system that can be easily manipulated.

The case is Alexia Palmer v. Trump Model Management, et al., U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-08037.

Reporting by Alana Wise; Editing by Peter Cooney