Tribunals are powerless to protect ‘vulnerable’ performers warns actress who won harassment case
An actress who won a sexual harassment claim against a theatre company she was employed by has warned performers are still “vulnerable”, claiming successful tribunal rulings do not prevent further incidents of abuse.
Helen Vine, who previously went by the surname Haines, was subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination while working for theatre-in-education company Rainbow Theatre Productions in autumn 2016, a tribunal found.
She was awarded more than £10,000.
However, speaking at an event organised by union Equity, to mark a year since it launched a campaign aimed at stamping out harassment, Vine warned there is no “victim support offered by the courts”.
“Money is seen as the solution and there is nothing in the employment tribunal system to stop this happening again,” she said.
Vine said part of the tribunal ruling had “excused one instance of harassment”, claiming the tribunal believed it was acceptable because “it occurred in a theatrical environment”.
“I am still shocked by this statement and the precedent it sets for making us vulnerable to certain types of abuse,” she said.
She described how her self-worth had “collapsed” while working for Rainbow Theatre Productions, and said: “Using what has happened to me to make positive change is the best thing I can be doing right now. As actors we have enough fear to deal with without fearing you might be unsafe when you have managed to secure a job.”
Equity president Maureen Beattie also spoke at the event. She said bullies and sexual predators had been allowed to thrive in an industry “characterised by short-term contracts, low pay, anti-social hours and an endemic lack of respect for the skills and expertise that workers in the entertainment industry bring to the table”.
Beattie added legislative change was needed to combat harassment, and said Equity would be pushing for promised consultations on issues such as non-disclosure agreements.
She praised the people who had spoken out on the abuse they have faced and added: “It’s impossible to put into words how much we all owe the extraordinarily brave women and men who came forward to speak about their experiences.”
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