Turning Pain Into Action: Ensuring Safe Work for All

Co-founder of TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund, Robbie Kaplan advocating for the NY Safety Agenda
Robbie Kaplan, a co-founder of the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund, advocates for the TIME'S UP Safety Agenda in Albany, New York. © Matthew McDermott

TIME’S UP was born out of a need to turn pain into action. In a global moment of reckoning, women in Hollywood joined with people across industries to say “enough is enough — the clock had run out on the epidemic of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.”

This reckoning was long past due. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), up to 85 percent of women in the United States report having experienced sexual harassment at work. The EEOC also estimates that 75 percent of all workplace harassment incidents go unreported. And we know that when workers do speak out, they often face some form of retaliation.

No industry is immune, but some are worse than others. And low-wage workers, women of color, and LGBTQ+ workers are particularly impacted, often facing the most discrimination — on top of the harshest working conditions.

Women who experience sexual harassment at work are six times more likely to change jobs, often ending up in less desirable fields with less pay. But the damage from harassment is not only physical and psychological; it also has far-reaching economic repercussions. Companies lose around $22,500 in productivity for every harassed individual.

While there is much to be done, TIME’S UP is dedicated to profound change. By preventing sexual harassment before it starts and protecting workers when it happens, we are committed to making safety the standard in every workplace, regardless of ZIP code or occupation.

We’re already seeing real progress. In the two years since #MeToo went viral, 15 states have passed new laws to strengthen protections against sexual harassment, including New York, where TIME’S UP played an active role.

After a year and a half of activism by TIME’S UP artists, activists, business leaders, and attorneys in New York, the TIME’S UP Safety Agenda passed the New York State Legislature in June 2019. The legislation strengthens workplace sexual harassment protections for millions of New Yorkers and lengthens the statute of limitations for reporting second- and third-degree rape.

Similar legislation passed in Connecticut, where the TIME’S UP Act raised the statute of limitations for most sexual assaults to 20 years and strengthened workplace harassment protections.

Meanwhile, federal change is on the horizon. In February 2019, Rep. Hank Johnson and Sen. Richard Blumenthal introduced the FAIR Act, which would prevent companies from using forced arbitration clauses to silence those who file complaints of harassment or other forms of discrimination. In September 2019, the FAIR Act passed in the House and now, it’s on its way to the Senate.

Then, in April 2019, Sen. Patty Murray, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Katherine Clark, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell introduced the BE HEARD Act, comprehensive legislation that would bolster protections against sexual harassment for working people — particularly for those in lower-wage or entry-level jobs.

Companies have the power to protect women at work without waiting for additional legal requirements, and some have started to lead the way. But there is still much more work to be done.

The window of opportunity is open for unprecedented change. Together, we can make sexual harassment a thing of the past — something that people only read about in history books. Are you with us? Enter your details below to join TIME’S UP.