AGMA is committed to preventing sexual harassment of Artists working in opera, dance and choral concert fields. Indeed, prior to the #MeToo movement, in May 2015, AGMA established policies to prevent harassment and set up a confidential reporting system (see our previous post for details). Since that time, AGMA has assisted its members in multiple claims of harassment. Although we are constrained in providing details due to confidentiality, AGMA staff has assisted individual members and its working groups in multiple harassment investigations/incidents at companies throughout the country.
Over the past few months, we have assisted individuals in numerous claims and have actively represented our members in several major investigations of sexual harassment. Our efforts have involved, among other services: reviewing allegations; interviewing witnesses; accompanying members on interviews; reviewing contract language and applicable protections; contacting management; filing grievances; negotiating settlements; referring members to legal experts and ensuring that members receive appropriate counseling.
In addition to this “hands on” representation and advocacy, AGMA has taken a proactive approach in seeking contract language to permit a more active role for the union in preventing harassment. Through this enforceable contract language, we are seeking to strengthen employer harassment policies; ensure meaningful anti-harassment training; and add further steps to prevent workplace harassment. Additionally, we have added the requirement in our Guest Artist Agreement that Artists be provided with companies’ anti-harassment policies with specific instructions of whom to contact to complain about harassing behavior.
All AGMA Executive Staff have received training on the legal and contractual prohibitions against harassment and AGMA will to continue to assist its members in this area. The art forms under AGMA’s jurisdiction require incredible vulnerability and trust for Artists to practice and perform at their highest levels. By encouraging our members to speak out, providing opportunities to discuss and codify the culture we wish to create in rehearsal, backstage, and on stage, and through increased enforcement of the policies designed to protect our members, we will continually strive to achieve the abolition of sexual harassment in the workplace -- an essential component of ensuring a safe and productive working environment.