Time's Up to halt operations, shift resources to legal fund

Streaming HUBJanuary 24, 2023

NEW YORK (AP) – The Golden Globes carpet usually sparkles with crystal-studded gowns in pastel hues, but it looked different in January 2018: The ballgowns were black, and the main accessory of the night was a pin with “Time’s Up” emblazoned on it. wrote. On stage, Oprah Winfrey got the guests to their feet and warned the powerful abusers: “Their time is up!”

Five years later, Time’s Up — the now troubled anti-harassment organization founded amid fanfare against sexual misconduct during the early days of #MeToo — is ceasing operations, at least in its current form.

A year after pledging a “major reset” following a scandal involving its leaders’ dealings with the then-government amid allegations of sexual assault, the group told The Associated Press that Time’s Up would transfer the remaining funds to the independently administered Time’s Up. Transferring to Legal Defense. Withholding funds, and other functions.

The decision, which board chairman Gabriel Sulzberger said takes effect through the end of January, ends a period of turmoil for an organization that made a spectacular public admission on January 1, 2018, of hundreds of Hollywood movie stars. There were newspaper advertisements running an open letter signed by. Stars, producers and agents.

After a highly visible show of support in the days following the Globes, donations large and small flowed in, with $24 million in GoFundMe earmarked for the nascent Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. The following months saw the formation of the rest of Time’s Up, which promised to clean house of an industry rocked by surprise allegations against mogul Harvey Weinstein.

By January 2023, Time’s Up was looking very different after a radical house-cleaning of its own – sparked by a damning internal report – with only a skeleton crew and three remaining board members. Sulzberger stated that the remaining funds are now approximately $1.7 million; Millions from the initial donation have already gone to the legal fund.

“This was not an easy decision, but the board was unanimous that it was the right decision and the most effective way for us to move forward,” Sulzberger told the AP.

She and the remaining board members — Colleen DeCourcy and Ashley Judd, the actor and one of the most powerful Weinstein accusers — will step down to form Time’s Up Now and the Time’s Up Foundation, two groups more commonly known as Time’s Up. , close.

“Very simply, the Legal Defense Fund really reflects who we were not only at our inception but really at our core,” Sulzberger said. “We really just decided that at the end of the day, we needed to go back to our roots. (The fund) was the first initiative we created and funded, and it’s central to what we stand for.” is in

The fund is administered by the National Women’s Law Center in Washington and provides legal and administrative assistance to workers, most of them low-income and 40% identify as people of color. Time’s Up Now and the Time’s Up Foundation focused on policy and advocacy work.

Uma Iyer, vice president of marketing and communications at the Law Center, says the fund has helped connect more than 4,700 workers to legal services, and has funded or committed 350 cases out of more than 500 that applied.

Employment and civil rights attorney Debra Katz, long one of the nation’s most prominent attorneys handling sexual harassment cases, called the fund an important resource for survivors and their advocates.

“They understand these issues and they have always been completely survivor-centered and respectful of survivors,” Katz said of the National Women’s Law Center, with whom she worked for decades.

But Katz, who represented Cuomo accuser Charlotte Bennett, was highly critical of the Time’s Up organization, particularly the Cuomo administration’s dealings with former CEO Tina Tchen and former board chair Roberta Kaplan. Both resigned in August 2021 following revelations after Cuomo was accused of misconduct, and he initially discouraged other incumbents from publicly commenting on the allegations of accuser Lindsey Boylan.

“You cannot backchannel corporations and entities and believe you were providing strategic advice when you are suing those entities because they engaged in serious wrongdoing,” Katz said. “That’s what they tried to do. It just erodes trust with survivors.

Current Time’s Up leaders point out that the organization was instrumental in fighting for legislation that increased protections for workers, including expanding the statute of limitations on rape in 15 states, and working toward achieving pay parity in women’s soccer. involved doing The group also worked on issues related to working families affected by COVID-19, such as emergency sick leave.

“I have two adult daughters, and the kind of problems I faced as a young woman in the workplace, I think Time’s Up has made a huge difference in moving that needle,” Sulzberger said.

Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, paid tribute to “those bold and brave individuals who banded together in 2017,” saying they disrupted a power balance that allowed abuse to continue. was giving permission.

“Creating something new is never easy,” said Graves, who also co-founded the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, “and her vision has fueled a beacon of justice that we can all be proud of. “

Despite initial fundraising success, Time’s Up was plagued with issues from the start, often accused of being aligned with Hollywood’s rich and powerful — a theme of the start of the #MeToo movement overall. There was also a leadership problem in the group. In February 2019, CEO Lisa Borders resigned over sexual assault allegations against her son. Tchen and Kaplan parted ways after a little over two years.

In announcing its “reset” in November 2021, the organization made public a report prepared by an outside consultant that listed a number of shortcomings. Among them: confusion over purpose and mission, ineffective communication internally and externally, the appearance of being politically biased, and seeming too attached to Hollywood.

Part of the problem, the report said, was how quickly the organization grew, “like a jet plane a rocket ship overnight.”

According to Sulzberger, the staff was reduced to a skeleton crew and the few remaining board members spent a year listening to the group’s many stakeholders before making a decision.

Katz said it would be wrong to see Time’s Up — or any organization, for that matter — as a sign of weakness of the overall #MeToo movement. Quite the contrary, he said: it shows the flexibility of the movement.

“As movements grow and become more mature, they go through phases. But if anything, it shows the strength of this movement because victims of sexual violence came forward and said, ‘We want our organizations are not going to tolerate this (conflict) within,” Katz said. “It shows the power of individuals demanding clarity within their organizations and leaders.”

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