In the almost two years since the #METOO movement began, we have repeatedly discussed issues of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Notwithstanding the attention placed on this topic, issues continue to arise in the workplace. Recently, another actress has alleged that she was subjected to harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Recently, actress Afton Williamson quit her role on the ABC show The Rookie. In the last week, Ms. Williamson provided some insight as to why she made this decision. Specifically, Ms. Williamson claims that she was subjected to racism, sexual harassment, and bullying on the set. What is more troubling, however, is Ms. Williamson’s claims that she complained of harassment and discrimination to a show-runner and nothing was done to investigate her claims. Employers can take a few lessons from yet another claim of harassment and discrimination in the entertainment business.
As an initial matter, at this time “bullying” is not protected by state or federal law. Nevertheless, if an employer gets a complaint of “bullying” it should investigate the allegation to ensure that any issues are remedied. Additionally, employers must investigate and take prompt remedial action to remedy any harassment and discrimination in the workplace. If an employer merely ignores the claims (as Ms. Williamson alleges) and the employee quits as a result, the employee may have a claim for a constructive discharge in addition to a cause of action for harassment. Employers must also have a policy in place which provides a structure for employees to report claims of harassment and discrimination in the workplace and must train its supervisors on how to handle such complaints. If an employer does not act when a claim is made it may be the next company in the headlines.
For discussions on this area of law and a variety of other employment law topics, please register for our 2019 Labor and Employment Seminar which will be held on September 18, 2019. To register, click the following link and fill out the registration form: https://www.hhe-law.com/seminars