Maria Therese Agcopra Agcopra – Fourth Estate Contributor
Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E) – CBS and actress Eliza Dushku arrived at a $9.5 million settlement last year after she complained of on-set harassment from her “Bull” co-star Michael Weatherly. The news was belatedly revealed in a report by The New York Times about CBS Corporation’s ongoing investigation in relation to accusations of sexual misconduct filed by different women against Leslie Moonves, former chief executive of the network, and others.
Dushku was hired in 2017 to play a major role in three episodes of CBS’ popular primetime show “Bull”. Her early days on the set were promising and there were plans to promote her as a full-time cast member. However, as her stint on the show progressed, Dushku received sexual comments from Weatherly, the lead star of the show. In one particular instance, Weatherly made a rape joke and made a comment about a threesome. When the actress confronted Weatherly about his behavior, she was briefly written off the series.
After considering pursuing a lawsuit, Dushku entered into mediation proceedings with CBS instead, during which both camps were amenable to a $9.5 million settlement, which is roughly equivalent to what Dushku would’ve received had she stayed on the show for four seasons.
The case involving Dushku, however, unearthed even larger problems at CBS. In the draft of the report obtained by The New York Times, it was stated that the company tended to protect itself and its image instead of addressing the issues and protecting the victims.
According to Rolling Stone, the terms of the confidential settlement agreement prevents the actress from further discussing her experiences on the set of “Bull” as well as details of her complaint against Weatherly.
In the last 13 months, a history of sexual harassment and misconduct by prominent men at the company were brought to the fore following the prominent rise of the #MeToo movement. Aside from making settlements, the network took more proactive solutions such as forcing the exit of Moonves and firing “CBS This Morning” co-anchor Charlie Rose and “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager.
CBS has promised to improve working conditions in the company. In a statement, the company said that while they are committed to creating a “safe, inclusive, and respectful workplace” they are admittedly still far from completing the job. Weatherly has also apologized for his untoward behavior on set.
“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,” the actor stated.
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