Eliza Dushku has finally spoken out about the sexual harassment she encountered on the set of CBS’ Bull. Last week, it was announced that Dushku was awarded $9.5 million from CBS in response to her claims of being harassed and then unjustly fired.
Dushku, known for her roles in Bring it On and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, filed a complaint with the number one broadcast network after several instances of sexual harassment on the set of Bull by the star of the show, Michael Weatherly. Dushku recounted several inappropriate jokes Weatherly made, in front of cast and crew, and also explained that when she confronted him about his behavior she was fired from the show – when she had been hired to become a series regular. The payment amount of $9.5 million reflects a portion of the wages she would have earned if her expected six-season contract had been honored.
In an op-ed piece she penned for The Boston Globe, Dushku explained that she hadn’t commented earlier because she was honoring the terms of the settlement, but after Weatherly and Glen Gordon Caron (Bull’s showrunner) both released statements that downplayed the severity, and even the veracity, of her claims, she felt the need to explain the situation from her point of view. In addition to recounting the vulgar jokes and manipulative behavior Weatherly directed at her, Dushku also focused on how this abuse made her feel. “This was classic workplace harassment that became workplace bullying. I was made to feel dread nearly all the time I was in his presence. And this dread continues to come up whenever I think of him and that experience.” Dushku was also quick to point out that her settlement came largely because Weatherly’s actions were caught on tape – providing unquestionable evidence that stopped this case from becoming yet another he said/she said situation incapable of resolution.
She also revealed that a main point of contention in her settlement was the hiring of someone trained in sexual harassment compliance to monitor Weatherly and the Bull set. CBS didn't want to do this, but Dushku wouldn’t settle without this condition. Dushku also wouldn’t settle without an agreed-upon sit-down with Steven Spielberg, the head of Amblin, which produces Bull. She said:
I cannot help but wonder where the legendary Hollywood director was throughout all of this. I have been a lifelong fan and assumed that if anyone could make changes, it would be Spielberg. Watching the Golden Globes and seeing Spielberg front-and-center wearing a “Time’s Up” pin shortly after my settlement made me especially eager to meet with him.
A little over a year into the #MeToo Movement, as people feel more emboldened to share their stories, it shouldn’t be surprising that both sides of this case are no stranger to these types of situations. Dushku has already shared a previous sexual assault she suffered as a child-actor on the set of True Lies and CBS also made headlines this week with the conclusion of a month-long investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against its disgraced former CEO, Les Moonves.
At this point, it’s clear that there is a problem in the film and TV industry (and many other lower profile industries). Now is the time for action to be taken. Dushku’s stipulation to have someone designated to watch out for bad behavior is a start, but it shouldn’t take a mediated settlement to get to that point. Taking complaints seriously from their first instance is the only way to change the culture that has enabled this behavior for so long.
Source: The Boston Globe