Freelancer Resources

Freelancers Fend for Themselves Against Sexual Harassment

In traditional workplaces, there is protocol to report sexual harassment. See Reporting Sexual Harassment. According to Forbes, the freelance workforce in the United States is made up of 53 million people, and the music industry is fueled by freelance workers.

Reporting harassment is challenging, and victims struggle with the fear of repercussions for speaking out or disbelief. Freelancers don’t necessarily have access to corporate resources such as HR and can make the experience even more hopeless. Also, many sexual harassment statutes require a tangible adverse employment action. Freelancers have the additional burden of proving that they were no longer contracted, or pay scale and other benefits were withheld as a result of harassment. The challenges for freelancers is demonstrating that a traditional employer-employee relationship exists.

Freelancers should keep records of harassment, as it occurs even if they never report it. (you can’t go back and re-create harassment records after the fact). See Reporting Sexual Harassment for records you should keep.

You should bring up harassment to your client. According to Charles Krugel, a Chicago-based HR counselor and management-side labor and employment lawyer, harassers are “usually not looking for a fight.”

If the harassment does not stop, you can report it to the EEOC or contact a lawyer, but make sure you have let your client remedy the situation first.

Report Sexual Assault to the Police

Sexual harassment of freelancers is a real problem that will only become more important as the freelance economy continues to grow.

Federal Protections do not adequately protect freelancers from sexual harassment. Also, action is needed at the state-level. New York is working to pass legislation that will address the gaps in protections for freelancers. New York City Council member Brad Lander is currently working on passing non-discrimination legislation that would protect freelancers from workplace discrimination in New York City. If the bill passes as it’s currently written, “sexual harassment to a freelancer would be treated the same by the law as it would sexual harassment to a full-time employee.”

JDoe is an App that lets you report sexual harassment

Sexual misconduct remains a difficult crisis for women and men. Fear, social blaming, and isolation continue to be key factors that cause victims to remain silent. JDoe is an encrypted and anonymous reporting platform. By linking victims of mutual offenders with lawyers. JDoe is designed with survivors and witnesses in mind. A detailed index of sexual misconduct laws by state is built directly into the app to help guide users through the reporting process. Quickly browse for nearby resources and the latest policies concerning sexual misconduct.

Action # 1

Write your local, state, and federal legislatures asking them to draft and pass legislation that will protect freelance workers from sexual harassment. Freelancers should be treated the same by law in regards to sexual harassment as full-time employees.

Find your local, state, and federal, representatives

Action #2

Encourage the community that you work in to adopt standards based on The Chicago Theatre Standards. You can find more information at #NotInOurHouse

The Chicago Theatre Standards is a voluntary tool for self-governance that seeks to nurture communication, safety, respect, and accountability of participants at all levels of theatrical production.

Its mission is to create:


Freelancers Union

Impact Fund The mission is to provide grants, advocacy, and education to support impact litigation on behalf of marginalized communities seeking economic, environmental and social justice.

Can You Sue for Sexual Harassment as an Independent Employee?

Sexual Harassment in the Theater: How Chicago Fought Back

9 to 5: National Association of Working Women

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Equal Rights Advocates

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF)

National Bar Association, Women Lawyers Division

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Women’s Law Center

U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau

Women Employed-IL

Women’s Law Project-PA

Resources for Freelancers in the UK

If you experience sexual harassment as a freelancer in the UK, here are some of the actions you can take:

Report it to the company

Many organisations in the UK, especially large and multi-national organisations, have harassment policies that apply to freelancers as well as staff members. All companies should have a disciplinary policy and process.

Contact your trade union.

BECTU is the trade union in the UK for the media and entertainment industry, the MU (Musician’s Union) covers musicians. Both have policies regarding discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace and can advise on legalities.

BECTU Women’s Health and Safety policy

MU support and guidance for members facing sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour at work

Make a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

If you are in England, Wales or Scotland, the Equality Act 2010 protects you from harassment at work by your employer or colleagues. Harassment, including sexual harassment, is classed as a form of unlawful discrimination under the act.

From May 6, 2017, you will need to notify Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) before you can make a claim to an employment tribunal. You no longer have to pay tribunal fees to make tribunal claims.

Resources – England and Wales

Citizens Advice – Harassment at Work

Citizens Advice – Sexual Harassment

Citizens Advice – Early Conciliation – how it works

Citizens Advice – Understanding Employment Tribunals

Resources – Scotland

Citizens Advice – Harassment at Work

Citizens Advice – Sexual Harassment

Citizens Advice – Early Conciliation – how it works

The Employment Tribunal in Scotland

Resources – Northern Ireland

The equality laws are different for Northern Ireland. The Equality Commission in Northern Ireland has details of current equality legislation. Citizens Advice Northern Ireland also has details about what to do if you have a problem at work

Report it to the police

If the harassment is, or becomes, physical, you can also report it to the police. Sexual assault is a criminal offence and should be reported to the police regardless of whether or not your employer takes action, or you plan to pursue a tribunal claim.

Reporting a rape or sexual assault – England and Wales

Support for rape and sexual assault – Scotland

Police Scotland – Help for Victims of Sexual Crimes – Scotland

Reporting sexual violence and abuse – Police Service of Northern Ireland

Keep Reading How Men Can Be Allies