Eliza Dushku broke her silence about her sexual harassment settlement with CBS

Update, December 19th, 2018, 1:30 p.m. PST: Eliza Dushku opened up about the settlement with CBS in an op-ed for the Boston Globe, noting that she originally avoided commenting to honor the terms of her settlement. Dushku confirmed the instances of harassment in the original New York Times report and wrote that Bull star Michael Weatherly never apologized to her; instead, he claimed she had a “humor deficit.” She added that Bull‘s showrunner fired her within 48 hours of her making a report.

“I do not want to hear that I have a ‘humor deficit’ or can’t take a joke,” she wrote. “I did not over-react. I took a job and, because I did not want to be harassed, I was fired.”

Dushku alleged that during her settlement process, the CBS team used a picture of her in a swimsuit. She added that the harassment suit was not only financially motivated. “I wanted a culture change,” she wrote.

For all the progress the #MeToo movement has made, far too many sexual harassers and abusers still manage to escape without even a slap on the wrist. Case in point: CBS reportedly paid actress Eliza Dushku $9.5 million in a sexual harassment settlement to prevent her from filing a public lawsuit.

On December 13th, The New York Times reported that in 2017, Dushku had a guest role on the CBS drama Bull, with plans to make her a full-time cast member. But the show’s star, Michael Weatherly, made several inappropriate comments to the actress, including joking about a “rape van” and implying that she wanted to have a threesome with him. According to The Times, after Dushku told Weatherly that she felt uncomfortable, her character was written out of the show. After mediation, CBS awarded Dushku $9.5 million in a private settlement. In a statement to The Times, the network acknowledged the payment.

"The allegations in Ms. Dushku’s claims are an example that, while we remain committed to a culture defined by a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, our work is far from done," the statement said. "The settlement of these claims reflects the projected amount that Ms. Dushku would have received for the balance of her contract as a series regular, and was determined in a mutually agreed upon mediation process at the time."

Weatherly also issued a statement to The Times, apologizing for his treatment of Dushku:

"When Eliza told me that she wasn’t comfortable with my language and attempt at humor, I was mortified to have offended her and immediately apologized," his statement read in part. "After reflecting on this further, I better understand that what I said was both not funny and not appropriate and I am sorry and regret the pain this caused Eliza."

News of the settlement with Dushku comes after several prominent cases of sexual harassment at the network. In September, CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves resigned following several sexual misconduct allegations. In fact, The Times notes that the actress’s complaint came to light in a report from an August investigation of the “cultural issues” at the network as a result of Moonves’s allegations. Investigators even found video evidence of the harassment in outtakes of the show that were submitted for review.

It’s clear we still have a long way to go when it comes to fostering safe and respectful work environments, and we sincerely hope CBS makes the much-needed internal changes on these fronts.

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