Five days after The Hollywood Reporter published an exposé of mega-producer Scott Rudin’s alleged workplace misconduct, performers’ unions SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 have condemned illegal harassment and harassment that creates a toxic work environment for entertainment employees.
“Every worker deserves to do their job in an environment free of harassment of any kind, whether that harassment creates a toxic workplace or, certainly in the case of sexual harassment, when that behavior is also against the law,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris, Actors’ Equity Association president Kate Shindle and American Federation of Musicians Local 802 president and executive director Adam Krauthamer said Monday in a statement prompted by THR‘s Rudin story. The unions collectively cover film and television actors, singers, voice actors, journalists, theater actors, stage managers and professional musicians, among other job categories.
The union leaders continued, “All harassment is not only detrimental to the health and welfare of workers, but also a serious threat to the proper functioning of a company. Thus, every corporate Board of Directors should be deeply alarmed by credible reports of long-standing, repeated violent and aggressive harassing behavior by individuals who hold high positions within a company or on a production and exercise management power over subordinates. Workers who come forward to blow the whistle in these situations are incredibly brave and we applaud their courage.” The unions did not define what “credible” meant in the statement.
THR‘s story reported several on-the-record allegations of the prolific theater and film producer, who has been working regularly for four decades in entertainment and whose alleged bullying behavior was widely rumored and even written about in the press, including allegations of bullying employees and even throwing objects like a baked potato and a stapler at them. Since the publication of the story, Annapurna Pictures founder Megan Ellison, who co-produced 2010’s True Grit with Rudin, tweeted that “this piece barely scratches the surface of Scott Rudin’s abusive, racist, and sexist behavior,” while Rent and Dazed and Confused actor Anthony Rapp called the piece “long-overdue.”
Rudin’s upcoming projects include the high-profile Netflix film adaptation The Woman in the Window, releasing May 14, and projects with A24 including Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth and Lila Neugebauer’s Red, White and Water. According to a knowledgeable legal source cited by THR in the Rudin story, legal claims against Rudin that cite abuse are generally settled quietly and employees usually sign NDA agreements.
In their statement, the unions said they would work together with entertainment companies to take action on bullying claims but also specifically called on “corporate counterparts” to do their part: “As organizations representing more than 200,000 members in the arts, entertainment and media, we unreservedly condemn workplace harassment in all its forms,” the union leaders said. “We pledge to work together, and with other allies, to hold accountable those who violate human and legal norms of fair, respectful and dignified conduct in the workplace. We demand action on the part of our corporate counterparts to swiftly address credible allegations of harassment.”