Superhero Sequel Will Be First Film to Apply New Industry Guidelines on Sexual Harassment

For the past year, the #MeToo movement has sought to shine a light on workplace sexual harassment. It has shown that, despite laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment in New York City and across the country remains a major problem. While lawmakers and legal advocates examine the laws addressing sexual harassment, leaders in various industries are exploring ways to address the issue before the courts must get involved. The Producers Guild of America (PGA), a trade association representing film and television producers, issued new guidelines on sexual harassment in January 2018. The guidelines do not have the force of law, but they represent best practices recommended for both PGA members and others. The PGA also announced that Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel to the 2017 film Wonder Woman, would be the first production to adopt the new guidelines. If you have questions about how you’ve been treated at your job, speak to a New York sexual harassment attorney.

Experience unfortunately indicates that existing antidiscrimination statutes can only provide so much protection against sexual harassment. Title VII prohibits sex discrimination and sexual harassment in employment, but the legal definition of “employment” can exclude a wide range of people and jobs. The entertainment industry, where #MeToo began, offers an example of this problem. Many of the alleged acts of sexual harassment did not involve a specific job, such as a role in a film. Instead they were often presented as a way for individuals, usually actresses but also actors, to “pay their dues” in Hollywood.

The PGA’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Guidelines, first published on January 19, 2018, are intended to help movie and television producers respond to incidents of sexual harassment, and prevent sexual harassment from occurring in the first place. They provide definitions of the two main forms of sexual harassment recognized by law as unlawful sex discrimination: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment. The guidelines instruct producers, “first and foremost,” to comply with all relevant state and federal laws. From there, they recommend “in-person anti-sexual harassment (ASH) training” for all cast and crew members, prior to the start of production, that focuses on “a culture of respect that starts at the top.” Producers should provide clear systems for reporting alleged harassment, investigate all claims, and prevent retaliation.

The character Wonder Woman debuted in print in October 1941. While other DC Comics superheroes like Superman and Batman have appeared on the big screen many times, Wonder Woman waited more than seventy-five years for Hollywood to feature her in a major motion picture. Wonder Woman premiered in June 2017. With box office receipts exceeding $800 million, it held the title of “highest-grossing superhero origin film”—at least until Black Panther surpassed it in 2018.

The 2017 film was lauded as a major advancement for women in film. The sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, began filming in the summer of 2018. It is currently scheduled for release in November 2019. The film had already made headlines after the star reportedly refused to sign on unless a particular producer, who had been the subject of multiple sexual harassment allegations, was removed from the production. It seems fitting that the film will further promote anti-sexual harassment efforts.

The experienced and skilled employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates advocate for the rights New York City workers in claims for sexual harassment and other unlawful workplace practices under city, state, and federal law. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to see how we can help you, please contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.

More Blog Posts:

Federal Judiciary Announces Steps to Address Its Own Sexual Harassment Problems, New York Employment Attorney Blog, September 17, 2018

Internal Watchdog Report Reveals Ongoing Sexual Harassment in U.S. Department of Justice, New York Employment Attorney Blog, September 12, 2018

Researchers Explore the Effectiveness of Employer Sexual Harassment Training, New York Employment Attorney Blog, July 31, 2018


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