Sexual Harassment in the Entertainment Industry
It is a well known fact that sexual harassment and assault are prevalent in the entertainment industry. It has impacted many individuals such as actors, actresses, models, musicians, and even employees who work for them. Sexual harassment doesn’t only cover rape. Any unwanted touching, hugging, or using threatening language to get someone to engage in sexual activity is considered sexual harassment. Victims can also be forced into sexual favors or acts in return for jobs, recognition, or fame. Oftentimes, many sexual harassment cases aren’t reported, or are reported years after the scenario took place. Many individuals in the entertainment industry worry that their jobs will be affected if they report any sexual harassment situations.
Based in Red Bank, NJ, Marlton, NJ, and Newark, NJ, and representing clients throughout New Jersey, our sexual harassment lawyers provide skilled legal counsel in sexual harassment and hostile work environment matters. Because our lawyers have experience assisting both employees and employers in a wide range of sexual harassment and hostile workplace environment cases, we offer unique insight and perspective to our clients.
What is Considered Sexual Harassment?
There are some forms of sexual harassment that are more clear than others. For example, any unwanted kissing, touching, rape, making sexually explicit comments, sexually suggestive gestures, cat-calling, etc. While these types of sexual harassment are more obvious, there are also subtle types of sexual harassment that can still occur. These include:
- Repeated compliments that make the individual feel uncomfortable
- Commenting on the attractiveness of others in front of other people
- Asking an employee about his or her sex life
- Making sexual jokes
- Sending inappropriate messages (texts, emails, etc) to someone
- Spreading sexual rumors about an someone
- Repeated, inappropriate touching
- Sexual harassment of the LGBT employees
The reality is that many women experience sexual harassment at work, and sadly the entertainment industry is well known for this. Many of the sexual harassment cases go unreported, as people in the entertainment industry are afraid to lose their jobs from it.
When people think about sexual harassment or assault, they typically view it as a man harrassing a women. While this is definitely more common, there have been plenty of incidents that involve a woman harassing a man. Same-sex harassment is an issue as well. A man harassing a man, and a woman harassing a woman is illegal.
What To Do If You Have Been Sexually Harassed
Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), and other state and federal statutes, your employer has a responsibility to prevent, investigate, and properly handle sexual harassment complaints. If you have been subjected to harassment, the individual harasser and employer may be responsible to compensate you for economic damages and pain and suffering.
If harassment occurs, it is crucial to take detailed notes of what happened. This documentation can help you out with your harassment claim. You should include:
- The nature of the harassment
- When the harassment took place
- Who was involved
- The location of the harassment
- If there were any witnesses
In addition to taking these notes, it’s also important to do the following:
- Tell the harasser their actions are making you uncomfortable and ask them to stop
- If the harassing continues, report it to someone. It could be a coworker, manager, etc. It could be possible that other coworkers are experiencing the same thing
- Consult a sexual harassment lawyer as soon as possible
Sexual Harassment Retaliation
Retaliation can occur when an employer punishes an employee for reporting sexual harassment. Fortunately, the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) protects employees in the entertainment industry who lawfully report sexual harassment from retaliation. Retaliation can take many forms, both major and minor, including:
- Getting fired
- Purposely not receiving career advancement opportunities
- Further abuse & harassment
- Jokes or teasing
Sexual Harassment Statistics
Sexual harassment in the entertainment industry is sadly very well known. One in five entertainment industry women reported that they were sexually harassed at some point during their careers. According to recent studies and surveys, 81% of women experience sexual harassment in their lives. More than 3 out of 4 women have been verbally harassed as well, which can include cat-calling, whistling, or unwanted comments. With the rise of the #MeToo movement, more women have been encouraged to report sexual harassment and assault cases.
On the contrary, around 1 in 21 men experience sexual harassment. More than 1 in 4 men experienced rape or physical violence when they were 10 years of age or older. Unfortunately, children in the entertainment industry do experience sexual harassment or assault as well. Studies have shown that 1 in 5 young girls and 1 in 20 young boys are the victim of child sexual harassment and abuse.
Representing Entertainment Industry Employers
Employers in the entertainment industry must take sexual harassment claims seriously, have effective policies, and strictly enforce them. Ignoring problems, minimizing complaints or failing to perform thorough investigations can create issues for entertainment industry employers.
To avoid liability for sexual harassment, employers must prove that:
- They took the necessary steps to prevent or correct the harassment
- The employee did not take advantage of their attempts to prevent or correct the harassment
Our attorneys provide guidance to minimize potential risk and exposure. Our firm can help entertainment industry employers create handbooks and policies, provide a clear understanding of employment laws, and help companies avoid future employment law claims.
Our firm is highly experienced at helping entertainment industry employers create and implement effective harassment and anti-discrimination policies. We also specialize in investigating employee complaints, helping to implement remedial plans and vigorously defending claims when necessary. Any entertainment industry employer or individual accused of harassment, allowing harassment to occur, or a victim of sexual harassment should contact McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. at the earliest opportunity for a free consultation.