Hollywood Union Survey Says Majority of Female Writers Sexually Harassed

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AFP/File EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ

A major Hollywood writer’s union has released a study claiming that 64 percent of female writers are sexually harassed in the entertainment industry.

The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) surveyed more than 2,000 of its members asking if female writers are harassed and found that “a significant amount of the harassment writers experience occurs in the writers’ room,” according to Deadline Hollywood.

The same survey found that 11 percent of male writers also said they had been harassed on the job.

The WGA insisted that the members who participated in the survey, “have given us a sobering, first-person insight into the conditions that make addressing the issue both essential and urgent.”

The survey is a follow up on the guild’s decision to look into sexual harassment at the workplace with its January “Statement of Principles on Sexual Harassment” issued in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

The WGAW also said that the survey results would help in its plans to craft a guide on “standards for a successful writing room.”

The survey is “serving the vital purpose of informing and motivating our search for ways to eliminate sexual harassment and assault, and, indeed, harassment of all types, from the professional lives of writers and those who work with them,” the Guild said. “For those of you who have experienced harassment, but did not share an account, be assured that the many stories we have received represent a broad array of experiences.”

Finally, the WGAW pointed to a 2006 California Supreme Court ruling that they claim has confused the issue of sexual harassment. The ruling maintained that coarse, offensive or sexually explicit language cannot be banned in writers’ rooms but that such talk cannot be directed at any particular employee because that would be harassment.

The ruling, the WGAW insisted, has confused writers and they hope to clarify the issue with its upcoming standards policy recommendations.

While warning that cases of sexual harassment should be handled by police, the union said it hoped that its new “guiding principles” would help “ensure a respectful culture” in Hollywood.

“[W]e want a culture which enables victims to speak up in a safe way that takes their experiences seriously. Your employer should investigate such claims thoroughly and with transparency,” the guild said. “There should be due process for alleged offenders, and proportionate consequences for guilty offenders. The reality is that this problem is too difficult, too long-standing, and too deeply rooted to yield a quick fix. Be assured that we are working every day to determine and implement a full array of responses that will be necessary to eradicate bullying, harassment, and assault in the writing workplace in Hollywood.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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