The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW), in a survey of more than 2,000 members, found that 64% of female writers have experienced sexual harassment sometime in their careers. This shocking disclosure, reported by Deadline Hollywood, was made in a letter from WGA West’s board of directors. The letter was sent to the board’s 9,000 members. It also revealed that 11% of male writers reported being harassed at some point in their careers.

The board mentioned that many writers have witnessed harassment. The letter also states that majority of harassment occurs in writers’ rooms. The Guild assured that, although it’s not the employer, it will not keep away from taking action in addressing this issue. The survey was sent to the guild’s members in February.

The Friends’ Case

In 2006, the California Supreme Court delivered its much-anticipated opinion in Amaani Lyle v. Warner Bros. case. Lyle, a former writers’ assistant on the sixth season of the show “Friends”, complained against the writers of the hit TV show for sexual discussions in the writers’ room during script development. She sued for sexual harassment based on the banter in the writers’ room. Later, during her deposition, she admitted that writers did not direct any of the comments at her personally, but rather she was offended by the discussions of sex in general.

However, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state law “does not outlaw sexually coarse and vulgar language or conduct that merely offends”.

During the survey, the board noted that many respondents called the Friends’ sexual harassment decision, a mistake which justified inappropriate behaviour in the workplace

The guild assured that this decision does not permit any such crude talk to be aimed at an individual in the room. The board agreed that objectionable talk may, in some circumstances, be enough to spread a hostile work environment.

Twitter reactions on the same:

Here are some quotes from the letter that was sent to members:

First, thank you to everyone who responded to the sexual harassment survey. The Board and staff take seriously our pledge to keep your responses confidential. Our study showed results similar to other published studies: 64% of female writers who responded reported that they had experienced sexual harassment sometime in their career; 11% of male writers had. Many more writers have witnessed harassment. Those of you who shared the story of an incident of harassment have given us a sobering, first-person insight. It makes addressing the issue both essential and urgent.

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.

Also: Do Women Writers In India Face Sexism For Their Writing?

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