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Mediation: A New way of Resolving Sensitive Sexual Harassment Cases in the Entertainment Industry

If you’re a young person starting out in the entertainment industry you understand that it’s a tough climb to the top. Your appearance can be an asset for you in your chosen career, or it may not. Either way, you may encounter abuse. You might be a newbie, and lack trust in yourself. Some of your relationships with mentors or bosses might involve imbalances of power and inappropriate behavior and abuse. You may not want to jeopardize a big break by calling out this behavior. You may be involved in a contract with those who are abusive or harassing. How do you emerge from these kinds of situations feeling that you have defended your rights, called out your harasser, and found a way to keep doing what you love?

On the other hand sometimes, when you experience abuse or sexual harassment in the entertainment industry you’re already established in your career. The abuse or sexual harassment may take place in a context where it’s hard to prove. It may take place between you and a big name colleague. It may be with someone you have a working relationship with, or even a former romantic partner. You want the sexual harassment to stop, or you want compensation for it, however your harasser could act in a volatile manner, counter-suing you or blacklisting you. How do you make it clear that this behavior is wrong, while ensuring your abuser can’t use the publicity against you?

Since the Harvey Weinstein revelations we’ve seen a seismic shift in our awareness of sexual harassment, particularly in the entertainment industry. There is no need to face disempowerment in this situations however. If you are facing sexual harassment from an individual you work with, there are a few good reasons to choose mediation.

1: Assurance

You may be thinking “why would I agree to talk to the person who has wronged me in mediation?” One answer to this question may be certainty and assurance. At Boileau Conflict Solutions we mediate sexual harassment cases to find lasting solutions. About 80 percent of mediations settle, and if your harasser has agreed to mediate, that often means he or she is committed to resolving the process. The fact that mediation takes place in private may be an incentive for a harasser to admit fault and take responsibility rather than fight. In sexual harassment mediations, the parties present can include the accuser, the harasser, and an insurance company if the harassment covered in company policy. Mediations can help to close the door on cases that are more complicated by getting parties agree to sign binding contracts going forward. Harassers can countersue for wrongful termination or defamation: the case of Taylor Swift and David Mueller is a good example. When Mueller sued her and Swift won, she asked for damages of a dollar, making the point that she was interested in stopping the harassment and having it acknowledged not the settlement. For those who are seriously traumatized by harassment, mediation doesn’t even have to involve being in the same room as your harasser. The mediator can be a go-between to help you negotiate.

2. Better Options

Say you are a young person starting out in the entertainment industry and your harasser is in a much more powerful position. You want to hold the person accountable but you want to protect yourself too. Going to court or dealing with an expensive, hard-nosed entertainment attorney who is probably representing the accused gives you limited solutions and puts you at risk. Mediation may give you the option to renegotiate a contract or working conditions that expose you to harassment. This may be especially relevant if you have signed an album deal or a contract with a studio. You may be deeply involved in an ongoing project like a movie that is important to your career, but complicated by the harassment. If you would like to see the accused held accountable, mediation may be a way of providing a private venue for them to actually admit fault (rather than fight it and waste your time and money in court). Mediation can be more aligned with your demands for security and accountability. Harassment isn’t always just lewd behavior, it can involve undermining and loss of promotions etc. Mediation can offer solutions like finding the accuser a job in the industry, having employers promise not to retaliate or restoring former positions.

3. Change for Good

Sometimes it’s possible to work with harassers to change their behavior. Some victims of sexual harassment may have the ability or the desire to negotiate an agreement that involves changing behavior or getting a harasser to perform some kind of restorative justice and/or to educate themselves about their actions. It may be healing and positive for some victims to feel they could contribute to this change. However these kinds of solutions should fit to everybody’s individual comfort level.

At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we are caring well-educated mediators who apply psychological, mathematical, legal and financial approaches to a variety of conflicts. Using these methods, we find novel ways of resolving a conflicts. We can discover and help to discover and resolve different interests through game theory. Sensitive cases involving sexual harassment in the entertainment industry can be a particularly good fit for mediation. Please visit us or contact us at our new office in LA, or in Irvine, CA, Campbell CA or Boulder, CO to see how we can help. We can also be reached via Skype, Zoom, Facetime or telephone.

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