Southern California is often viewed as the hub of the entertainment industry. Because so many people want to break into show business in some capacity, they may be perceived as willing to simply accept a wide array of abusive, bullying and harassing behaviors inflicted upon them by employers and co-workers. This is frequently treated as fodder for comedy and part of the business. However, with the rise of the “me too” movement complete with the social media hashtag and other steps to combat workplace mistreatment, people are emboldened to come forward. One recent case of a major Hollywood producer who was accused of years of abusive behaviors has sparked an investigation by a trade association. Even with that increased scrutiny, people who are victimized might want to consider their rights independently to gauge whether they have cause to file a legal claim.
Accusations against powerful producer leads to task force
The producer Scott Rudin was accused of abusive and bullying behavior that bordered on violence. News reports of his treatment of employees has led to the Trade Association the Producers Guild of America to launch a task force to address harassment of workers in the industry. Mr. Rudin was not mentioned by name by the PGA, but it was clear that the stories of his longstanding behaviors were the catalyst to the investigation. The PGA is condemning intimidation, bullying, harassment and other activities attributed to its members. It is also expanding its training to stop members from treating others in this manner. Other entities have made statements regarding harassment including various actors’ and musicians’ unions.
Harassment in general is a workplace violation
When workplace violations are discussed, people tend to focus on sexual harassment, as evidenced from the aforementioned #MeToo movement. Today, racial discrimination is an oft-discussed issue, as is LGBT. Other ways in which people can be discriminated against are due to disability, pregnancy, age, national origin, gender, religion and race. There are many other subsets to workplace discrimination and harassment. If an employer is generally harassing by threatening, intimidating, throwing objects, committing emotional and even physical abuse as the allegations against Mr. Rudin suggest, it is also a legal violation.
Despite the unions and trade associations saying they plan to act, it is understandable if people who work in the industry are reluctant to believe it will be effective. Understanding how the law protects people who are subjected to legal violations can warrant a legal filing for compensation. This is true if the person still works at the same job, departed because of the abuse or was terminated.
Having professional representation can assess a potential case
People who have been victimized may be skeptical that much will be done to alter the culture in Hollywood and an entertainment industry that seems to ignore workplace harassment. This may even be an ingrained belief in the corporate industry and in blue collar jobs where employers and supervisors do not think anything of consequence will happen if they are reported. Victims should be cognizant of their rights and consult with experienced professionals in employment cases to know how they can move forward.