United States: Sexual Harassment Guidelines—Wonder Woman Gets It!

Last Updated: February 16 2018
Article by Amy Epstein Gluck

Wait, what? What does Wonder Woman have to do with employment law?

The set of the sequel to Wonder Woman—aptly named Wonder Woman 2—is the first film, officially, to adopt the Producer's Guild of America's ("PGA") recently announced sexual harassment guidelines in the wake of ongoing sexual harassment accusations in Hollywood.

This is a top-down commitment to the eradication of sexual harassment! Our "trickle-down- follow-the-leader" theories made it to Hollywood—the PGA is reading our blog! (Recall that we noted that both houses of Congress must be reading our blog too!)

With one male producer kicked off the movie, the director of Wonder Woman 2 (who directed the original) adopted these guidelines, which the PGA's board of directors recently ratified to combat sexual harassment on movie sets. The guidelines include anti-sexual harassment training before shooting begins and a variety of ways people can report harassment on set.

What Are These Guidelines?

Notably, the guidelines include the initial recommendations made by the PGA's Anti-Sexual Harassment Task Force, which were created last October after the Weinstein reveal and subsequent snowball of sexual harassment allegations aimed Hollywood's way.

Movie sets are a workplace, people, so I thought you might want to see how the Guidelines compared to some of the advice we've been providing to you.

Some of the PGA Guidelines, as set forth by Variety, include:

  1. Policy: All productions must comply with federal and state laws regarding harassment. "If you are uncertain about the nature of the law, please consult with your in-house legal department (if you have one) or with an attorney."

Ok, yeah, I agree. Good idea, but maybe better to say what the law is.

  1. Training: Each production must provide in-person, anti-sexual harassment training for all members of the cast and crew prior to the start of production and prior to every season of an ongoing production. "Effective training should not be simply focused on avoiding legal liability, but must be part of a culture of respect that starts at the top." Also, "[S]uch training takes different forms and styles; make certain that the training you utilize is tailored to your specific production and its needs. Producers should ensure that the individual trainer has experience providing training in the area of sexual harassment laws and that all levels of management are present at the training in order to demonstrate the production's commitment to the policy."

Love it!

Training should definitely be in-person, interactive, streamlined to the particular business, and devoid of too much legalese. Folks don't necessarily care about the names of the laws, but if you engage in interactive training with real-life examples – both overt and subtle – training can minimize the incidence of sexual harassment, especially juxtaposed with a zero-tolerance policy, even enforcement, and commitment from the top down.

You know the drill. If you don't, here's a refresher, or see our Employment Client Alert here.

  1. Reporting procedures: each production will offer reporting procedures that provide a range of methods and multiple points-of-contact, including contacts at different organizational levels and in different geographic workplaces.

Love it too—employees working for private employers do not just have to report to HR or one supervisor.

  1. Assure and reassure the accuser/reporter: "If a cast or crew member reports an incident of harassment, assume the complainant is being sincere until further inquiry can be undertaken, while bearing in mind that the report itself does not predetermine guilt," it said. "Reassure the reporting party that the production takes harassment very seriously and that s/he will face no retaliation for reporting. The production should move quickly to address the allegations or engage a third party to do so, allowing for as much transparency as can be provided."
  2. Anti-retaliation: "Producers should be sensitive to interpersonal power dynamics and the way even their casual questions or requests may carry implicit authority," it added. "We recommend that producers conduct all meetings and/or casting sessions in an environment that is professional, safe and comfortable for all parties, and encourage others on the production to adhere to these same standards."

Yes, yes, and yes.

We'll have to see if it works ... and wait patiently for Wonder Woman 2!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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