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SAG-AFTRA Releases Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment for Members

SAG-AFTRA has released a “Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment” instructing  its 160,000 members how to deal with the issue.

The union made the announcement Saturday night following a meeting of its national board. President Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White disclosed on Jan. 19  that the union was developing a such code  in a message sent to members of the national board.

Saturday’s announcement asserted that the code is part of a broader program to protect its members and to confront harassment and advance equity in the workplace. The code defines sexual harassment and details what constitutes a hostile work environment, retaliation, and other types of prohibited conduct. It also sets forth employers’ legal obligations under both the union’s contracts and the law, including the need to provide reporting mechanisms through which members can report instances of sexual harassment.

Additonally, the code makes it clear that SAG-AFTRA members will refrain from engaging in harassing conduct. And it announced “Four Pillars of Change” to achieve the union’s goals.

“To truly change the culture we must be courageous and willing,” Carteris said. “At its most basic, this Code will ultimately help better define what harassment is, and what members’ rights are in real world situations. We are going further, however, with the launch of our Four Pillars of Change initiative to achieve safe workplaces and advance equity.”

White said, “This initiative provides a critical framework for our collective efforts to further strengthen protections for SAG-AFTRA members who experience harassment in the workplace. Our comprehensive approach ensures that we stay focused on providing members with clear information, making training available that is relevant and practical, and working with industry partners to expand our tools to intervene and support victims of workplace harassment and assault. We are very excited to engage in this effort.”

The “Four Pillars of Change” include rules and guidelines, empowerment through education, expanded intervention efforts, and building bridges and safety nets. “This initiative gives members a clear understanding of their workplace rights and provides reliable guidance for members to navigate the unique environments of the entertainment, music and media industries,” Carteris said.

Carteris has been active on the issue since October’s bombshell allegations about disgraced executive Harvey Weinstein.  She issued a condemnation of Weinstein a few days after the first story broke, headed a panel in Los Angeles on Nov. 14 with Gloria Allred and another three days later in New York. She’s also persuaded the AFL-CIO executive council and the Intl. Federation of Actors to increase their efforts to deal with the problem.

Carteris and White have said previously that the number of reports of sexual harassment that come into SAG-AFTRA have been averaging at least five a day — far above the level prior to October.

Carteris told Variety in December that she had been sexually harassed many times. She’s best known for portraying the valedictorian and school newspaper editor Andrea Zuckerman on the long-running series “Beverly Hills, 90210” and has also appeared in “Touched by an Angel,” “King of the Hill,” “NYPD Blue,” “JAG” and “Criminal Minds.”

The union posted the code on its web site along with a message from Carteris and White that began: The recent intensified focus on sexual harassment in our industry and across many sectors has exposed abuses of power that pervade workplaces across the country and beyond. We believe it also presents a unique opportunity for unprecedented change and is a call to action for us all. We unequivocally condemn workplace harassment in all its forms.

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