Hollywood’s Dirty Secret: Sexual Harassment in the Entertainment Industry

The phenomenon of the casting couch has been infamous Hollywood lore since the 1910s. Ashley JuddChloe SevignyGwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, Helen MirrenTippi Hedren, and even Judy Garland are among the many stars that have been the victims of sexual harassment in “the industry”. What used to be a prominent producer, director, or studio head preying on an actor for a role has evolved into harassment of many forms that take place anytime and anywhere – including over text, email and social media. Victims of both genders throughout the industry are suffering these advances and feeling the pressure to comply. Just saying “no” can either cost them their job or cost them a chance at the job they are seeking.

Sexual Harassment at the Oscars

With the Academy Awards season in full swing, controversy looms around one of its Best Actor nominees. Casey Affleck has already taken home some awards at pre-Oscar shows this season, and he is one of the favorites for his role in “Manchester by Sea.”   Affleck recently settled a sexual harassment lawsuit in which two women accused the star of lewd behavior.   What people outside of the industry don’t see is that Affleck’s alleged behavior is but a high profile example of an epidemic that ranges from the agency mailroom to the production companies, managers’ offices, and beyond.

Publicized Cases

The victims and their assailants work in a variety of Hollywood industries, from motion picture to television to production firms and digital content factories. We’ve seen an outpouring of cases in the media, with more alleged victims of Hollywood’s elite revealing themselves to the public. The Bill Cosby case continues to unfold with numerous women alleging the same sexually harassing behavior. Longtime Fox News Chief Roger Ailes departed from the network amid allegations that he sexually harassed some of his female anchors and reporters. Federal prosecutors now want to open an investigation into 21st Century Fox for quietly settling the claims.

The Victims

Who are the potential victims? Production Assistants, Make-Up Artists, Extras and Lesser-Known Stars, Art and Sound people, Camera Production Members, Directors Associates, Production Coordinators, and Location Scouts, Production Company Assistants, Agency Assistants, Agency Mailroom Workers, Management Company Assistants, Development Employees, Studio Employees, Personal Assistants, and Interns are just some of the positions where people could experience sexual harassment in Hollywood. If you work in any of these jobs and have been subjected to unwelcome advances from anyone at work – not just your boss, but also a co-worker or even a client – you need to come forward!

If You Have Been Sexually Harassed In The Industry You Are in Good Company

The behavior is so prevalent that Director/Producer Angela Hutchinson created the documentary H.U.S.H. – the documentary on Hollywood’s Untold Sexual Harassment. The film’s associate producer, Kausar Mohammed, remarks, “H.U.S.H. gives a voice to the many women who have been through sexual harassment experiences, in attempts to garner greater attention to a contributing factor that hinders the success of women in entertainment.”

While the documentary relives the horrors of women who have experienced sexual harassment at the hands of male colleagues and superiors, sexual harassment isn’t limited to this male-superior, female-victim dynamic. Female-superior to male-victim, and certainly same-sex harassment is still an epidemic in the industry.

Do you work in the motion picture, television, reality-TV, television news, or digital production fields and have experienced sexual harassment? The laws against this behavior apply whether you work in a multi-billion dollar network, studio, or agency or whether you work in an informal production house churning out programming and content seen on network TV, cable, or the internet, or even as a personal assistant to an actor or producer.

The Carter Law Firm is a top California employment and labor shop with expertise in sexual harassment cases. If you feel that you have experienced this behavior, or you know someone who has experienced this behavior in the entertainment industry, please share your experience in the contact form below.

We realize that discretion is paramount in this area and your response will be kept completely confidential.