“I was drowning. . . [o]ne day I sat down and asked for help. I remember thinking that if this doesn’t work, then I have nothing.”
-Annie Delgado, a Latina teacher from California
#Metoo. In the past year and a half, we’ve heard those words and stories of sexual harassment from actresses and fast food workers, from paramedics and Ph.D. students, from fish packers and legislators. We’ve heard stories of sexual harassment at work from a 15-year-old girl at her first job at McDonalds, a transgender cashier whose supervisor outed him and then discriminated against him, from a new mother trying to pump in privacy, and from a grandmother, working towards retirement. Regardless of industry or position, age or place in life, there is no immunity for workers from sexual harassment at work.
This reality is grim, yet far from hopeless.
We’re over a year out from the fateful fall/winter of 2017 when the news of Harvey Weinstein turned from a splash into a flood of revelations of rampant sexual harassment in Hollywood. The narrative is well known to us now, and we have seen the momentum ripple through the entertainment industry. When the movement truly transcended, though, was when Latina farmworkers from Alianza Nacional de Campesinas published their powerful“Dear Sisters” letter of solidarity. Sent to the actresses in Hollywood, the letter illuminated the parallel experiences of sexual harassment and abuse haunting farmworkers and decried the persistence of these workplace realities for women across the country. Actresses, public relations professionals, and lawyers mobilized around the power of the campesinas’ letter to tackle the epidemic of workplace sexual harassment. The collective action of these many groups compelled the launch of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.
Workplace sexual harassment is an assertion of power and dominance. It’s a tool wielded to shut individuals, often women, out of opportunities. It’s used to silence us and isolate us.
WHAT WE DO
The TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund joins the coalition of powerful advocates, from grassroots organizations to larger ones, in the mission to break the cycle of silence and isolation.Housed at and administered by the National Women’s Law Center Fund LLC, The TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund carries out 5 important functions:
1) it connects people all around the country who experienced sex discrimination at work with attorneys who agree to do a free consultation to discuss legal rights and options;
2) it funds selected cases involving workplace sexual harassment and related retaliation;
3) it connects individuals who have experienced workplace sexual harassment with free public relations support;
4) it awards grants to organizations to do “know your rights” training, education and outreach among low-wage workers to prevent workplace sexual harassment;
5) it connects law students interested in exploring gender justice with attorneys whose cases receive funding.
Since January 2018, we’ve received over 4,000 requests for assistance. Around one-third were from women of color, a majority of whom were Black women, and two-thirds from individuals who identify as low-income. We’ve funded over 100 cases involving work and career related sexual harassment, granted public relations support to almost 50 individuals, and given outreach grants to 18 worker organizations. We’ve helped Jennifer Glover, a security guard at a nuclear facility in Nevada who was brutally assaulted by co-workers find a lawyer. We’ve given funding to “Alisha” in Texas to bring a case against the postal service after her supervisors harassed her because of her sex and disability and then pressured her to resign. We’ve awarded a grant to Restaurant Opportunities Centers United to train restaurant workers across the country on their rights when it comes to standing up against sexual harassment at work.
APPLY FOR FUNDING, JOIN THE NETWORK, AND SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE
There’s a lot left to do. We know from the stories people share with us that retaliation for talking about what happened to them is ubiquitous. We know that too many people are left with little recourse under the laws as they currently stand to truly protect people or win justice for them.
But we’re fueled by all those who are with us, including you, and the conviction that every person deserves a workplace free from violence and where they are treated with dignity and respect. We know you share this conviction, and we need you. We can’t wait to fund your cases of sexual harassment in the workplace, for you to join our Network, and for you to tell us about your experience.