The Time's Up Movement Is Making Good On Its Promise To Help Women In All Industries

"I don't care who you are. There is no cause for disrespect."

When women in Hollywood launched the Time's Up movement earlier this year, they made it clear that their mission to fight sexual harassment and inequality extended to all industries. In solidarity with survivors everywhere, the movement's legal defense fund has raised $22 million, and it's already helping women in low-paying jobs file lawsuits against their employers.

According to the New York Times, about 2,700 workers have contacted the fund, which is handled by volunteers from the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C. Priority is reportedly given to workers in low-wage jobs and male-dominated industries. Assistance includes $3,000 for initial lawyer fees, which goes up to $100,000 if the case goes to trial. Women may also be connected with public relations specialists to bring attention to their cases.

"We hope to send a message to employers," Emily Martin, the National Women's Law Center's general counsel, told the paper. "Just because a woman doesn't have a lot of money or connections doesn't mean someone isn't going to stand up for them."

The Times spoke to Gina Pitre, a former Walmart employee who — with the help of Time's Up — is suing the company after she says a manager touched her inappropriately and made sexual comments. "I don't care who you are," Pitre said. "There is no cause for disrespect."

Workers at another major company are also receiving support from Time's Up. According to the Associated Press, the advocacy group Fight for $15 is helping 10 women in nine cities lodge sexual harassment complaints against McDonald's. Time's Up is covering the legal costs.

"I feel like I have a voice now," said one of the complainants, Tanya Harrell. "It gives me a bit of motivation and a bit of courage."

Although it's reportedly difficult to track all of the cases, the Times reports that another lawsuit supported by Time's Up was filed by a medical resident who says she reported her harassment and was subsequently forced out of her program. 

Meanwhile, women in Hollywood are filing their own lawsuits. That includes actress Ashley Judd, who is suing producer Harvey Weinstein. According to Reuters, Judd claims that she lost out on a role in the Lord of the Rings films after Weinstein made "baseless smears" against her for rejecting his advances.

Recently, it was reported that Michigan State University will pay a $500 million settlement to survivors of abuse by former doctor Larry Nassar, who was also the USA Gymnastics doctor. The women who spoke out against him will be honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award by the ESPYS.

With the help of movements like Time's Up, more women in every field will hopefully feel empowered to speak up.

[Editor's Note: After publication of this story, Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove reached out to A Plus with the following statement:

"We support people more openly talking about these important issues and applaud efforts to raise awareness. We do not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind and thoroughly investigate all sexual harassment allegations. In this particular case [of former employee Gina Pitre], after a comprehensive investigation, including witness interviews, we could not find sufficient evidence to substantiate a violation of our Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy. We take this matter seriously and will respond appropriately."]

Cover image: KieferPix / Shutterstock.com

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