Celebrity gossip blogs and tabloid magazines are usually filled with rumors on who’s dating who or which actors are feuding. But lately, many of the news stories have had a very different theme: sexual harassment. Countless stories of sexual harassment and assault have emerged out of Hollywood, many of which involve actors, comedians, and producers with household names. These stories have revealed that working in Hollywood is certainly not glitzy or glamorous for many women.
Sexual Harassment in Hollywood
The first breaking news story on sexual harassment in Hollywood involved producer and founder of The Weinstein Company, Harvey Weinstein. The initial story on Harvey Weinstein featured allegations of sexual harassment and assault from a handful of women. But once this was released, dozens of other women came forward with similar stories. There are currently over 80 women that have accused Weinstein of harassment, assault, or rape, with some incidents dating back to the 1970s. Most of the women are actresses, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan, and Paz de la Huerta.
Since the news broke, Weinstein was forced to leave his position at The Weinstein Company and was kicked out of the motion picture academy. Police departments in several cities, including London, New York, and Los Angeles also launched investigations into Weinstein’s crimes.
Another story of sexual harassment that has recently made headlines involves Roy Price, the former head of Amazon Studios. Price was forced to resign from his position after a producer came forward and accused him of making unwelcome sexual advances and inappropriate comments to her while traveling for business.
Steven Seagal has also been accused of sexual misconduct by several women, including Portia de Rossi, Jenny McCarthy, and Julianna Margulies. Allegedly, Seagal lured up and coming actresses to his hotel room by offering them the chance to audition for a new movie. Once the women arrived, Seagal would expose himself, make sexual comments, or make inappropriate requests.
Another Hollywood figure that is making headlines for all the wrong reasons is James Toback, who is best known for directing “Bugsy” and “The Pick-Up Artist.” An article published in The Los Angeles Times accused Toback of harassing and assaulting women over the last several decades. Since this article was printed, over 200 women have come forward to share their own sexual harassment and assault stores involving Toback. Despite the fact that hundreds of women all have similar stories, Toback has continued to deny that he ever engaged in this behavior.
This is just a small sample of the sexual harassment stories that have been brought to light over the last few months. Clearly, sexual harassment and assault is a much bigger issue in Hollywood than anyone ever suspected.
How Common is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Sexual harassment is not just a problem in Hollywood—it’s a pervasive problem that affects women in all industries. Multiple surveys have revealed that about one-quarter of all women in the U.S. have been sexually harassed while at work. Although sexual harassment can occur anywhere, it is far more common in industries that are dominated by men such as construction or medicine. Women who work in industries that have a significant number of low-wage positions, such as the food service industry, are also at a greater risk of being sexually harassed at work.
Sadly, most incidents go unreported. In fact, it is estimated that only 10-30% of sexual harassment incidents are reported to employers. This is because women often feel that they won’t be believed if they report harassment. Other women choose not to report it because they do not want the complaint to hurt their careers. As a result, these women end up suffering in silence instead of getting the help and compassion that they deserve.
Fortunately, more people are starting to understand the seriousness of sexual harassment in the workplace. A recent poll revealed that 75% of Americans believe sexual harassment is a problem, with 64% of respondents calling it a “serious” problem that needs to be addressed. Hopefully, more action will be taken to stop sexual harassment now that people are starting to recognize the size of this issue.
How to Report Sexual Harassment
It took many of these victims in Hollywood years to find the courage to speak out against sexual harassment. But if you have been sexually harassed, it’s strongly recommended that you report it right away. If you are nervous about reporting it or unsure whether what you experienced was sexual harassment, get in touch with an employment law attorney. An experienced attorney can offer you advice and guide you through the process of reporting the misconduct.
First, report the harassment to your employer. An employer cannot stop the harassment—or be held liable for it later on—if they are unaware of it. Your employer should immediately launch an investigation into the incident after you file an internal report. But if they don’t or if the harassment continues, file a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
The DFEH will contact you to learn more about your sexual harassment claim. Then, representatives from this agency will conduct an investigation to determine if the allegations are true. The DFEH may attempt to resolve your issue with your employer through mediation. However, mediation is not always successful. If you cannot reach an agreement with your employer, the DFEH will either file a lawsuit on your behalf or allow you to file a lawsuit on your own.
If you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, seek legal representation as soon as possible. The employment law attorneys at Shegerian & Associates have represented both female and male sexual harassment victims in their pursuit for justice. Contact us today by calling 1-800-GOT-FIRED.