SAG-AFTRA Sets Forth Code of Conduct On Sexual Harassment

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In response to the current wave of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct within the entertainment industry, SAG-AFTRA this week released what it is calling a Code of Conduct On Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. The Code begins with definitions of sexual harassment and the many forms such harassment can take, from hostile work environments created by verbal, visual and/or physical sexual conduct to Quid Pro Quo exchanges of work for sexual favors. The Code reiterates the legal obligation on the part of all employers to create and maintain a safe workplace free from all forms of discrimination and harassment, and reminds those employers of the necessity to provide a mechanism through which their work staff can report instances of sexual harassment. The Code also encourages employers, whether large studios or small, temporary venues, to maintain an open line of communication with SAG-AFTRA regarding these issues so that the union can work together with both employer and employee to resolve conflicts and ensure contractual compliance.

“To truly change the culture we must be courageous and willing. At its most basic, this Code will ultimately help better define what harassment is, and what members’ rights are in real world situations,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “We are going further, however, with the launch of our ‘Four Pillars of Change’ initiative to achieve safe workplaces and advance equity.”

As outlined by Carteris, the Code of Conduct is part of a sweeping, union-wide Call To Action, which urges all 160,000 union members not only to be vigilant of instances of harassment they may witness, but to also be mindful of their own behavior as well. The Call To Action sets forth “Four Pillars of Change”:

► Rules and Guidelines – provides members with a clear understanding of their rights and gives them guidance on navigating the unique entertainment industry workplace.

Empowerment Through Education – creates training opportunities for individuals, establishes expert panels and offers other educational outlets.

► Expanded Intervention – reinforces SAG-AFTRA’s capacity to intervene on members’ behalf when needed.

Building Bridges and Safety Nets –  reiterates SAG-AFTRA’s commitment to working in collaboration with industry stakeholders and other allies to achieve a more equitable and harassment-free workplace.

“Our comprehensive approach ensures that we stay focused on providing members with clear information, making training available that is relevant and practical, and working with industry partners to expand our tools to intervene and support victims of workplace harassment and assault,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White. “We are very excited to engage in this effort.”

For more information, and to read both SAG-AFTRA’s Call to Action and Code of Conduct in their entirety, visit the union’s website at http://www.sagaftra.org/sag-aftra-code-conduct.

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Richard Hart
has been an employee of the NY Office of Breakdown Services for the past 17 years. During that time, he penned articles for the original Access Newsletter and in 2006, created the first Actors Access blog, "Much Ado About Everything." He is currently at work on a novel set in the show biz worlds of New York and LA.

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