Source | www.nytimes.com
Last week, after a New York Times investigation found a hidden history of sexual harassment allegations against the Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, The Times asked women to share their own experiences with power imbalance in the workplace and whether they have ever been afraid to speak up.
Many spoke of the times they had been threatened for requesting equal pay, penalized for taking maternity leave or blacklisted for bringing suit against their attackers.
The women we spoke to shared their stories, but did not want their names published for fear of retribution or possible repercussions for their career.
Here is a selection of responses, which have been edited for length and clarity, and to protect the identities of the people in the stories.
“I had to sign a gag order”
Some women who worked in Hollywood said that they were blacklisted in the industry as a result of coming forward with their experiences.
Four decades ago I was chosen from thousands of hopefuls to participate in a talent program initiated and run by a major motion picture company. A handful of winners flew out to Hollywood and worked for three months with a director chosen to run the program. The original premise was to give participants studio contracts.
The harassment by the director started immediately. Sexual, gross and excruciatingly disturbing because I was alone with no support.
The president of the company quit, the program disbanded and I came home, devastated. I took it upon myself to call the new president who played dumb and washed his hands of it.
After seven months of struggling I decided to bring a suit. Breach of contract and sexual harassment were the grounds. It landed on the front page of a show business newspaper.
Eventually it was settled. I had to sign a gag order. This is the problem: Gag orders and nondisclosure agreements are wholly designed to protect the perpetrator and the company. The person who should be protected is left tongue-tied for the rest of their life, dreams crushed.