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Potential Ways to Protect Workers From Sexual Harassment through the Copyright Law

With movements like #MeToo and the social push to empower women to speak out against their abusers, allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are on the rise. Victims are now exposing the appalling amount of sexually driven crimes in the workplace, but it’s exposing the ineffectiveness of Title VII’s ability to prevent instances of harassment in the workplace. 

As a business owner, you want to protect your workers from sexual harassment. That can seem like an impossible task at times, especially when hiring independent contractors, but did you know that you can potentially use copyright laws to your advantage? Here’s what you need to know. 

Laying the Groundwork

The prominence of the #MeToo movement can be traced back to Ashley Judd’s allegations against Harvey Weinstein in 2017. Countless women came out an detailed similar experiences of sexual harassment and even rape with Weinstein, prompting the me too phrase from 2006 to catch national attention. 

Soon, other women followed suit and spoke out against their abusers. Despite the good intentions of Title VII, it turns out that Hollywood wasn’t the only place able to skirt around the law. Television anchors, tech executives, photographers, musicians, and more were receiving allegations from thousands of women across the country. Even with a veteran sexual harassment attorney on each case, it still wasn’t enough. 

In creative industries such as these, perpetrators are able to jump through the loopholes of Title VII. The law does not protect independent contractors, it makes filing a claim an elaborate process, and the standards it sets are lenient to employers. Plus, the compensation for damages is set at a low bar for these industries. 

Can Copyright Law be the Answer? 

The answer to that question lies in 1972’s Title IX. Congress targeted sexual discrimination in the education system by denying federal funding in all its forms to those who victimize or attempt to bar women from their institutions. 

Those same stipulations can extend to copyright laws. While no amendment has been made just yet, companies can adopt similar language in their policies. They can thwart discrimination, protect against retaliation, and provide a private right of action. When these policies are violated during the creation of a copyrighted work, companies can take the same courses of action already offered by Title VII. 

Outside of the entertainment industry, firms like Myers Law Group have routine success when they are able to fall back on company policy. While their clients often fall under Title VII, policy remains a vital part of each case at trial. 

Until an amendment is made, changing and enforcing policy around copyright law to reflect Title VII’s protections is the only clear course of action. Tying these two laws together creates a definitive stance against sexual harassment in creative industries, one that is easily enforceable by law and provides a simplified course of action for victims. The sooner these industries act, the sooner they can work to put a stop to the rampant sexual abuse taking place within them.