A few weeks ago, the New York Times blew the lid off of a story about Ashley Judd's (amongst others') accusations of sexual harassment against famous Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Since this article was published, more than 60 women have come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein, and the number is growing.
In the past weeks, some of the actresses who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and abuse are famous women - Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette and Rose McGowan. Many women have shared their personal stories of what they endured while working with Weinstein. The allegations of unwanted touching, harassment and rape span over decades- some dating back to the early 1980s.
Gloria Allred helps more accusers come forward
Attorney Gloria Allred quickly began assisting accusers in coming forward. Several current and former actresses, including Natassia Malthe, Louisette Geiss and Heather Kerr, as well as former Weinstein Company production assistant, Mimi Haleyi, have turned to our firm for representation and assistance in coming forward publicly. We now represent numerous accusers, some who have not yet gone public.
In a CNN interview, Ms. Allred stated that the allegations so far are "just the tip of the iceberg" and that more women continue to contact her from all over the world not only regarding Harvey Weinstein, but also with allegations against other high-profile figures in Hollywood.
What this tells us about sexual harassment disclosure
If proven true, the scandal has raised questions about how Weinstein could have abused so many people for so long. The most evident explanation is simple: Weinstein's power and influence within the movie industry. Many actresses, especially those who were just beginning their careers, stated that they felt that speaking out about the sexual harassment they endured would put their careers in jeopardy.
On CNN, Ms. Allred noted that "sexual harassment in the entertainment business is severe in many cases, and it's pervasive and harmful to the women pursuing employment... they fear retaliation. They fear that there is a power gap - a power differential. That someone who is rich and famous such as Mr. Weinstein will be able to make sure they never work again."
Many in the film industry are expressing hope that this scandal will help eliminate Hollywood's 'casting couch,' which refers to the trading of sexual favors for roles and career advancement.
Of course, sexual harassment is an issue that exists in all kinds of workplaces, not just those in Hollywood. According to research conducted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is not disclosed up to 94 percent of the time. Many women don't file a complaint largely due to fear and the imbalance of power. And 75 percent of the time, women face retaliation after reporting sexual harassment.
This scandal has put the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace in the spotlight. Now, it is up to the nation as a whole to work towards putting an end to this issue.