TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund–Making a Difference
Three years ago, TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund started with a mission to help all workers achieve safe and respectful workplaces. It is the only nationwide resource for people facing workplace sexual harassment to connect with attorneys and the only organization dedicated to funding litigation challenging workplace sexual harassment and helping with public relations assistance in those cases.
2020 started with a moment that harkened back to the founding of TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund—Silence Breakers rallying and speaking out during the criminal trial and conviction of Harvey Weinstein. In 2017, these survivors coming forward and an open letter by Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, the first national farmworker women’s organization, were the catalysts that led to the creation of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.
In March 2020, COVID-19 took hold and massive numbers of women, especially Black women and Latinas, lost their jobs or left the workforce altogether.
And yet, other than a small dip in March, the numbers of workers coming to us for assistance remained constant. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic made every bad thing worse, and the same was true for the lives of the people TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund helps. Workers facing sexual harassment became more isolated and lost access to their support systems because of necessary stay-at-home requirements. Workers, already worried about retaliation, which our study of requests for assistance shows happens to more than 7 out of 10 workers who complain of sexual harassment, now had to worry about the possibility of not finding another job given the high unemployment rates. Workers who desperately wanted to come forward publicly and talk about what happened to them found it almost impossible to be heard. And, as One Fair Wage reports, masks were turned into a tool of sexual harassment.
Despite these challenges, TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund kept working. We connected people with lawyers and funded cases. We saw victories—improvements in the law and successful results for individual workers. This report gives you some of those stories and our most recent statistics as we continue our fight for safe and respectful workplaces in all industries.