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Directors Guild Unveils Procedures for Handling Sexual Harassment

The Directors Guild of America has issued procedures for dealing with sexual harassment in a notice sent to its 17,000 members on Thursday.

The move comes three months after the the DGA announced that it had launched disciplinary proceedings to expel Harvey Weinstein as a member, two weeks after the extensive revelations of alleged sexual abuse leveled against the disgraced mogul. The DGA has a long-standing practice of not commenting on internal union matters, but decided to make an exception in this case. Weinstein resigned a month later.

The DGA said Thursday that the recent public focus on sexual harassment is long overdue.

“The Guild believes the workplace should be a respectful and inclusive environment and that every individual has the right to a safe workplace,” the statement said. “We condemn sexual harassment and are committed to developing solutions to help eradicate this scourge from our industry.”

The statement also noted the difficulty of changing culture and noted that the DGA has joined the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. Additionally, the missive urged members to lead by example.

“As directors and members of the directorial team, DGA members are often respected employees on set — and it is incumbent upon all of them to lead by example,” the guild said. “All members should speak up and put a stop to unlawful harassment whenever they see or experience it.”

Read the full message below:

Dear Member:

The recent public focus on sexual harassment in our industry, and in all industries, is long overdue. The Guild believes the workplace should be a respectful and inclusive environment and that every individual has the right to a safe workplace. We condemn sexual harassment and are committed to developing solutions to help eradicate this scourge from our industry. (Read the Board’s full statement here.)

Changing culture is a long and difficult journey; there is much work to be done and the Guild is committed to helping lead that process. As part of that effort, the DGA has joined the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, an industry-wide coalition whose goals are to lead the entertainment industry toward alignment in achieving safer, fairer, more equitable and accountable workplaces.

In addition, the Guild successfully negotiated for online sexual harassment training for DGA members who work under the BA/FLTTA in our 2017 contract negotiations. The details of these trainings are being worked out now and should be rolled out soon.

While the DGA continues working toward industry-wide solutions, we are available to you to discuss any concerns you may have. Below are answers to general questions about reaching out to the DGA, and background information about sexual harassment and the law.

How the Guild Can Help
If you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, or if you would like to have a discussion about your situation, please call Mayra Ocampo, Assistant Executive Director at (310) 289-2006 or email her at mocampo@dga.org. After business hours, please contact the DGA’s Safety Hotline at (800) 342-3457.
These conversations will be kept private. Members with concerns, particularly if the concerns are current, can also speak to their Field Representatives who will listen and refer them to appropriate resources.

As a guild it is our duty to ensure all members receive fair treatment and due process. If an allegation of sexual harassment has been made against you, and your employer wishes to interview you, the Guild can also represent you. Whether you need or have the right to representation depends on the facts of the case.

What will happen as a result of that call?
The Guild can assist in finding appropriate resources to support you and advise on next steps, which may include reporting the issue to the employer. It is the employer’s obligation to provide a safe workplace, free of sexual harassment and the fear of violence, and to take appropriate remedial action if it becomes aware of such misconduct. An employer has an affirmative duty to investigate sexual harassment if it has reason to believe it has occurred, even in the absence of a formal complaint. The DGA can help make sure the employer is meeting its obligation. We will also help strategize and discuss options when the employer is the one engaging in the inappropriate behavior.

What is the role of the member?
As directors and members of the directorial team, DGA members are often respected employees on set — and it is incumbent upon all of them to lead by example. All members should speak up and put a stop to unlawful harassment whenever they see or experience it. The first step is reporting the harassment to the employer so it can be quickly stopped. If you see something, say something. Employers are legally prohibited from retaliating against any person for making, or assisting in making, a harassment complaint. If you have been retaliated against for making a complaint, please contact us immediately.

How does the law define sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment has a legal definition narrower than how the term is used in the broader societal conversation. Even if you aren’t sure what has happened to you is legally actionable, the behavior may be against company policy or be otherwise inappropriate workplace conduct for which we can help you.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the government agency responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to sexually harass anyone in the workplace.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there are two types of sexual harassment: 1) hostile environment, where the conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating a hostile working environment; and 2) quid pro quo, where a supervisor relies on his/her authority to extort sexual consideration from an employee that is linked to the grant or denial of job benefits.

What laws prohibit harassment?
Federal
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) is the federal law that prohibits sexual harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII. Title VII also provides for a private right of action for individuals.

California
In California, harassment is also prohibited under the state discrimination statute, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Each statute creates an administrative agency with investigative and enforcement authority. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) administers FEHA. California law requires that certain larger employers—those with 50 or more employees—provide sexual harassment training to their supervisory employees every two years.

New York
The state of New York and the City of New York have their own regulations which can apply to companies that have as few as two employees. The state law is embodied in the New York State Human Rights Law (HRL). New York Human Rights Law § 296 prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace in New York. The statute of limitations is one (1) year and complaints may be filed on-line with the New York State Division of Human Rights.

The New York City Human Rights law on sexual harassment is located in Title 8 of the city’s administrative code. It prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace in New York City. The statute of limitations is one (1) year and complaints may be filed on-line with the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

Do other laws prohibit sexual misconduct?
Sexual misconduct may violate other laws apart from the employment discrimination statutes. State criminal law generally recognizes the crimes of rape, attempted rape and sexual assault. In addition to claims for sexual harassment, state law may provide civil causes of action for sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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