In his office, Matt Lauer had a button at his desk that, if pushed, would cause his office door to close. This could be used to lock the office door without leaving his seat. Mr. Lauer allegedly used this device to invite women into his office, lock the door behind them, and then expose himself to them and demand sexual favors.
The obvious reason to have such a device is to intimidate staffers. If they were in a meeting and the door shut behind them, that would be intimidating, especially because the door might or might not be locked. Just knowing that this is possible would be intimidating. Again and again we are seeing Hollywood power players leveraging their power in order to engage in, and cover up, sexual harassment.
According to NBC, Mr. Lauer was investigated and terminated for sexual harassment.
This is not a problem of a few bad apples. It is a structural problem. Hollywood is organized by the power players, for the power players. They can and do destroy careers for arbitrary reasons, including because a person complained about sexual harassment. As long as studio heads like Harvey Weinstein have the power to ruin careers, with no accountability, many of them will take advantage of that power to commit rape and other acts of sexual violence against their own employees, potential employees, and independent contractors.
Lena Heady described being harassed, told not to tell anyone (implicit threat of blacklisting across the industry as a whole) and when she wouldn’t give in, she was never in another Miramax film (blacklisted from Miramax).
It’s not enough to make men afraid to commit sexual harassment. We need to make Hollywood afraid to blacklist and badmouth actors and other workers. In other industries, the common practice is to only give former employees’ dates of employment and job titles. But Hollywood power players feel free to trash-talk and blacklist people, even successful actors like Ms. Headey.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, or you have been trash-talked by a former employer, or are concerned that you have been blacklisted, you may want to talk to an experienced employment lawyer. If you think you have been denied employment because you complained to anyone about sexual harassment (even: complaining to a completely different employer), you may want to talk to an experienced employment lawyer.