What is sexual harassment as defined by the law? 


New York State recognizes sexual harassment relating to non-employees under NY CLA Exec s. 296-d:

“It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to permit sexual harassment of non-employees in its workplace. An employer may be held liable to a non-employee who is a contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace or who is an employee of such contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace, with respect to sexual harassment, when the employer, its agents or supervisors knew or should have known that such non-employee was subjected to sexual harassment in the employer’s workplace, and the employer failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. In reviewing such cases involving non-employees, the extent of the employer’s control and any other legal responsibility which the employer may have with respect to the conduct of the harasser shall be considered.”




What role can the Guild play if I have been sexually harassed or abused? 


At the request of The Dramatists Guild, the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds has formed a sub-committee to study the issue and recommend further steps. In the meantime, the Guild has taken steps to engage with its own membership in a number of ways.

If you are a member of the Dramatists Guild and would like to report an incident of sexual harassment or abuse in the workplace, please use our Syntrio Anonymous Reporting Portal. You can submit reports by phone or online.

Syntrio is an independent provider that assists our organization to identify improper activity. They are committed to protecting the identity of all persons who use our secure reporting system. Reports are submitted by Syntrio to our organization's designee, and may or may not be investigated at the sole discretion of the organization. Although they will not disclose your identity without your express permission, it is possible that your identity may be discovered during an investigation of the matter reported because of information you have provided. 

If a Guild member’s complaint is not against a fellow DG member but, instead, is made against a member of another theatrical union, the Guild will attempt to work with that union’s leadership to make them aware of the complaint and request action on the member’s behalf.  Please remember, however, that the Guild has no authority to require any third party to engage in any specific action.

If you are not a Guild member and would like to register a complaint against a Guild member, please us our Syntrio Anonymous Reporting Portal.

If a party wants to register their report with the DG, it will be reviewed by the Membership Committee to determine if further action is warranted, as outlined in the Guild’s bylaws. Such reports will be held as private and confidential, but any accused member is entitled to due process under the Guild’s bylaws and so, if a hearing is held to determine an accused member’s membership status, the complaint will be made available to the accused member so they can respond to it in their own defense.

Even if you do not wish to report the incident now, please consider using our Syntrio Anonymous Reporting Portal so you will have a contemporaneous record of the event, which may be of use to you later.




What role does the employer have in addressing sexual harassment?


In our industry, each theatrical union has a collective bargaining agreement with its employers (the producers) that establishes a way that employees can report and seek redress when they are victimized in this way.  But dramatists are uniquely situated, in that the Guild is not a union and dramatists are not employees.

While there are state and federal laws, and union contracts, that attempt to address sexual harassment, those laws and contracts apply to “employees” in their “work place.”  But dramatists may not have the protection of such laws or recourse to such contracts, because writers in the theater are licensors of intellectual property, not “employees” per se (at least under the current laws). So legal protections for employees may not be available to dramatists.

In some cases, a dramatist not only licenses their property but also provides services for a fee (like when a writer is paid a non-recoupable commission to write a specific work, or is required to be present and participate in the development process of a new work).  In such cases, a dramatist may be compensated as an “independent contractor” and, as such, could be entitled to certain kinds of legal recourse.

In addition, beyond the problems of defining an “employee,” how can a “work place” be defined in the context of a theatrical production? Is it just the offices, the rehearsal halls and the venues where a show is being presented? Or could it be a bar where a writer is meeting a director to discuss their notes, or a hotel room where a playwright has cocktails with a producer to pitch a new play, or a star’s home, where the composer and lyricist perform the new song they’ve written for their new show to try and persuade the actor to accept the lead role? These may or may not be deemed “work places” under the laws of a particular state, but they surely are places where a dramatist interacts with others who may have power over their career.

And what is the appropriate role for the labor unions in this industry?  There has been much debate on that question.  From the union’s perspective, workplace safety is an issue of collective bargaining and is the responsibility (and expense) of the employer. In addition, they have a legal “duty of fair representation” to their members that they claim puts a limit on their ability to share information or act directly with other organizations or individuals against their own membership.  Nonetheless, some unions have been working to increase their services and education for their members on this problem and to provide the resources that they can (You can see their information in the links section below).




What other steps can I take to address this? 


If you feel you may have been subjected to behavior that violates our bylaws, or is otherwise illegal or violates your rights, there are a number of initial steps to take.