What is the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund?

The TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund was started by women in Hollywood who were moved by the outpouring of support and solidarity against sexual harassment from the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (the farmworkers). These actresses and activists were determined to find a way to show solidarity with survivors of sexual harassment, assault, abuse and related retaliation in all industries — especially low-income women and people of color. They worked together in a historic first to design a structure that would be both inclusive and effective.

They collaborated with super lawyers Tina Tchen and Robbie Kaplan, Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women’s Law Center, and communications specialist Hilary Rosen. The answer was to create a program that could help people across the country — the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund. Seeded by the generosity of these initial Hollywood producers and actresses, the Fund has gained broad support and donations from many leaders in the film and television industry and now from thousands of small donors from across the country. The more money that is raised, the more people we can help.

What is the Legal Network for Gender Equity?

NWLC launched the Legal Network for Gender Equity in October 2017. The Network connects individuals experiencing sexual harassment or other forms of sex discrimination at work, at school, or in accessing health care with attorneys willing to take on these types of cases. The lawyers who participate in the Network, including those who agree to take on workplace sexual harassment and related retaliation cases as part of the TIME’s UP Legal Defense Fund, agree to provide a free initial consultation to individuals who contact them through the Network and in some instances can take on sexual harassment or other sex discrimination cases pro bono or for a reduced fee.

Which cases will be financially supported by the Fund?

Criteria and procedures for identifying workplace sexual harassment and related retaliation cases eligible for Fund financial support are currently being determined. A priority will be given to individuals in low-wage jobs who could not otherwise obtain legal help to challenge sexual harassment or defend against related retaliation.

What will the monies from the Fund be used for?

The primary purpose of these monies is to help defray the costs of legal representation for individuals challenging workplace sexual harassment and related retaliation. The Fund will also provide financial support for public relations services for these cases as appropriate, pursuant to criteria and procedures currently being determined. Finally, the Fund will support the costs of staffing and administering the program.

Is NWLC currently hiring for work in relation to the Fund?

Staffing for the Fund is still being determined.

Why do lawyers sometimes need financial support to take on sexual harassment or related retaliation cases?

Bringing a legal case, or even hiring a lawyer to help address a problem with an employer without resorting to litigation, is expensive. This often requires paying an attorney an hourly fee as well as any of the out-of-pocket costs. Lawyers who agree to represent clients without any upfront payments are taking a financial risk on the case. If a case is successful in court then there’s a chance that it could lead to a financial resolution for both the client and the lawyer. However, this is not guaranteed in any way. As a result, it can be difficult to find a lawyer to take on these types of cases, particular for those working in low-wage jobs. This Fund will help encourage more lawyers to take on these cases as they will have access to financial support.

Does NWLC have any fact sheets or policy positions available on sexual harassment?

Yes. Please refer to #MeTooWhatNext: Strengthening Workplace Sexual Harassment Protections and Accountability. 

We also have more resources available on the #MeTooWhatNext page.