Hollywood’s guilds quietly are working behind the scenes to address the industry’s sexual abuse and harassment epidemic. They’re all participating in the much ballyhooed, Anita Hill-led Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, but they’re also working independently to address the issue.
The WGA West has formed a Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment and is working on a “mission statement” and a list of specific initiatives to address sexual harassment and the discrimination that goes with it. A guild spokesman said the subcommittee “was formed in November and has met regularly since then.” The co-chairs are WGA West vice president Marjorie David and board member Glen Mazzara.
“We’ve also let the members know that guild staff is ready to assist them if they want to bring a sexual harassment claim or have a confidential discussion with an experienced guild representative about their situation, including if they’d like a representative to accompany them to file a complaint,” the spokesman said.
The WGA notes that sexual harassment in the workplace is a violation of its film and TV contract – though there is a “caveat.” Article 38 of the contract states that “to the extent provided by applicable federal and state statutes only, there shall be no discrimination due to sex, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, gender identity, color, creed, national origin or disability.”
The “caveat” is that Article 38 (G) of the contract excludes discrimination claims – including harassment claims – from the contract’s grievance and arbitration procedures, so any enforcement action would have to be brought by the guild in court.
The Directors Guild, meanwhile, says it’s been working on the issue of sexual harassment since October “in a deliberate manner focused on long-term solutions, which we will begin rolling out shortly.”
The Producers Guild’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Task Force, formed in October in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, recently issued guidelines that were approved unanimously during a special meeting of the guild’s board of directors. Those recommendations to its members include in-person anti-sexual harassment training for all members of the cast and crew – no matter how big or small the show – prior to the start of production and before every season of an ongoing production.
A spokesperson for SAG-AFTRA said its Sexual Harassment Work Group “is being formed now.” It’s being set up as a subcommittee of the President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Safety. Last week, the union said it’s developing a Code of Conduct to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace – and at auditions, wrap parties, film festivals and anywhere else performers gather to find jobs or promote and celebrate their work. The guild said it’s also exploring tech innovations to help track reports of harassment and abuse and is working to strengthen existing laws and set new standards “to better protect everyone from sexual harassment, abuse, misconduct and discrimination.”