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Producers Guild ratifies new anti-sexual harassment guidelines


The Producers Guild of America expelled Harvey Weinstein last year after a host of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations arose. Now the group has ratified new anti-sexual harassment guidelines.

"While the PGA is a voluntary membership organization, the PGA's Anti-Sexual Harassment Guidelines are sanctioned as best practices for our members," the guild said in a statement. The guild, which represents producers in film, television and new media, has more than 8,000 members. 

After the Weinstein revelations, a guild task force was asked to research the problem of sexual harassment and misconduct and propose solutions. The board of directors unanimously ratified the guidelines last week.

The guidelines recognize that film, television and new media sets are workplaces and are covered by state and federal laws prohibiting sexual harassment and gender discrimination. They assert that every workplace must ensure that no one is subjected to sexual harassment, must have a policy in place prohibiting it and must explain to employees how to report complaints. They go on to say that employers must "take prompt remedial action reasonably calculated to end the harassment."

Producers Guild recommends members take reports seriously and prevent retaliation

The guidelines urge each production, regardless of budget, to provide in-person anti-sexual harassment training to every member of the cast and crew. Such training should not simply be geared toward avoiding legal liability, but toward fostering a culture of respect.

Every production should be vigilant about preventing sexual harassment. This should include providing a range of reporting procedures that encourage victims to come forward. For example, the guild suggests that each production designate at least two individuals, ideally of different genders, whom cast and crew can approach if they experience or witness harassment.

Instead of merely providing training and a complaint mechanism, the guild goes further and urges its members to take sexual harassment complaints seriously. "Assume the complainant is being sincere until further inquiry can be undertaken, while bearing in mind that the report itself does not predetermine guilt," the guidelines read. Complaints should then be addressed, possibly by a third party, in as transparent a process as possible.

Finally, members should take active steps to prevent retaliation. Few people will come forward with reports if they expect to face retaliation, so this provision in the guidelines is crucial. The guidelines define retaliation as including "firing, change in work responsibilities, transfers, ignoring or excluding, unwarranted discipline, or otherwise making a complainant feel uncomfortable or unwanted in the workplace."

These guidelines are a positive step forward for an organization struggling with the issue of sexual harassment. For them to be effective, however, guild members will have to make good faith efforts to comply with them.

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