Workplace harassment blights industries across board

 26 Oct 2017 - 0:48

Workplace harassment blights industries across board
Harvey Weinstein during a photocall as attend the De Grisogono Party on the sidelines of the 70th Cannes Film Festival near Cannes France on May 23, 2017 (AFP / Yann Coatsaliou)

AFP

New York:  Sexual harassment in the workplace is a global scourge. From sport to cuisine, from fashion to finance, here is a round-up of industries in the United States dogged by revelations in the wake of Harvey Weinstein's disgrace.

Cinema

Since early October, more than 40 women have accused the Hollywood mogul Weinstein of sexual misconduct ranging from inappropriate touching to rape, stretching back decades. His accusers include Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow.

This week actress Dominique Huett filed a lawsuit charging that The Weinstein Company was complicit in the abuse, in knowing for years of its co-founder's "repeated acts of sexual misconduct with women."

Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon has said she was 16 when she was assaulted for the first time by an unnamed director, calling out "the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment."

Dozens of accusations have been made against director James Toback for unwanted sexual encounters. Pop singer Bjork also said she was harassed by an unnamed director, saying "it is a universal thing that a director can touch and harass his actresses at will and the institution of film allows it".

Fashion

Labels Bulgari, Diesel and Valentino are reportedly parting ways with Terry Richardson, a 52-year-old New York photographer famed for sexually explicit images after Conde Nast blacklisted him from some of the biggest magazines in the world.

New York-based designer Prabal Gurung called on the fashion industry to hold accountable all who worked with Richardson and turned a "blind eye to his horrific actions. Clearly they cannot say they didn't know, because we all knew."

US model Cameron Russell launched an Instagram campaign called #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse that swiftly garnered more than 70 anonymous accounts of abuse, lewd behavior and harassment.

Finance

Fidelity Investments, one of the biggest finance firms in the world, sacked two senior executives including one who ran a $16 billion tech fund, over sexual harassment allegations, an industry source confirmed Tuesday.

The company is presided over by CEO Abigail Johnson, widely considered the most powerful woman in the male-dominated world of US finance.

"We simply will not, and do not, tolerate this type of behavior," a company spokesman told AFP by email.

Food

Celebrity chef John Besh, who fed world leaders and appeared on television, stepped down from his company on Monday following complaints of sexual harassment at his restaurants.

But he denied an abusive culture at the firm where women alleged co-workers and supervisors engaged in unwanted touching, made inappropriate comments, and at times tried to coerce women.

"The beginning of the end of institutionalized Meathead Culture in the restaurant business," tweeted celebrity TV chef Anthony Bourdain.

Media

Fox News has long been rocked by allegations that its late former chairman Roger Ailes and ex-star presenter Bill O'Reilly settled multiple allegations of sexual harassment brought by female colleagues.

The New York Times reported last week that O'Reilly, who has since been fired, settled one harassment claim for $32 million in January.

"What on Earth would justify that amount? What awfulness went on?" former Fox anchor Megyn Kelly said on her NBC morning show on Monday.

Leon Wieseltier, a prominent editor at The New Republic, apologized this week after women accused him of sexual harassment, The New York Times reported.

"I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected," he reportedly wrote.

Music

Shock rocker Marilyn Manson announced late Tuesday that he had "decided to part ways" with longtime band member Jeordie White, whose former girlfriend accused him of rape. "I wish him well," Manson tweeted, offering no further details.

Politics

Former US president George H.W. Bush, 93, issued an apology on Wednesday after an actress accused him of groping her from his wheelchair four years ago and telling a dirty joke with his wife Barbara by his side.

"President Bush would never -- under any circumstance -- intentionally cause anyone distress," said a spokesman.

An open letter is circulating in Illinois that, without naming individuals, outlines incidents of powerful male politicians making inappropriate advances toward female staff in the midwestern state.

More than 140 female politicians and staffers signed a similar open letter in California last week.

In Europe, lawmakers debated ways to end all forms of sexual harassment and were due to vote on a resolution on the subject Thursday.

Sport

Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast McKayla Maroney revealed on October 18 that she was molested throughout her career, starting at the age of 13, by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.

Nassar, who is facing trial on more than 20 counts of assault, molested her at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo, she said.

More than 350 gymnasts were reportedly abused, according to the Indianapolis Star and the scandal forced the resignation of USA Gymnastics chief Steve Penny earlier this year.