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SAG-AFTRA Issues New Rule: No More Auditions in Private Hotel Rooms

New guideline aims “to help protect members from potential harassment and exploitation”

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the Times Up movement, Hollywood’s Screen Actors Guild called for the end to auditions in private hotel rooms in a Thursday announcement.

“To help protect members from potential harassment and exploitation, SAG-AFTRA released today a Guideline that calls for an end to the practice of holding professional meetings in private hotel rooms or residences,” the group said in a statement.

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said: “We are committed to addressing the scenario that has allowed predators to exploit performers behind closed doors under the guise of a professional meeting.”

The change comes after accusations of decades of sexual harassment and assault have been lodged against Weinstein. The film producer has been accused now by nearly 90 women in various cities around the world, though he has consistently denied any nonconsensual sex.

Weinstein often used the guise of auditions to lure actresses into hotel rooms where women say he would harass and assault them sexually. And Actress Lupita Nyong’o said in a New York Times essay that the disgraced movie mogul harassed her at a private residence early in her career.

The accusations against Weinstein opened a floodgate of accusations against other men in Hollywood, including Louis C.K., Jefferey Tambor, Kevin Spacey and James Toback.

“This is the first expansion of the Code of Conduct, which the union published in February as part of its Four Pillars of Change initiative to confront harassment and advance equity in the industry,” SAG-AFTRA said in its announcement. “Following input from members, experts and industry stakeholders, Guideline No. 1 reflects SAG-AFTRA’s dedication to upholding professional standards and addressing the unprofessional and unlawful workplace culture that too many of our members face.”

The industry has been scrambling to put systems in place to help curtail the abuses of power by men. Women in the industry, such as Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay and Natalie Portman, started a legal defense fund in conjunction with the #TimesUp movement to fight sexual assault, harassment, discrimination and abuses of power in the workplace.

Late last year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences set a code of conduct as well to help prevent such misconduct from spreading further.

“There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency,” the academy said in a statement at the time. “The Academy is categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, or nationality.”

SAG-AFTRA’s guideline No. 1 calls on producers and other decision makers to “refrain from holding professional meetings in hotel rooms and private residences.” It calls for members and their reps to avoid meetings in such “high-risk” locations. “In the rare event that there is no reasonable alternative to having the meeting in such a location, Guideline No. 1 establishes the concept of a ‘Support Peer’ to accompany the member during the meeting,” the organization said.

Criminal investigations into Weinstein’s accused misconduct are underway in New York, Beverly Hills and London. He was fired as CEO and Chairman of the Board at The Weinstein Company, which entered a voluntary bankruptcy sale process last month.