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Actress speaks about about sexual harassment settlement

It may seem like people who work in show business aren't subject to the same laws requiring workplace behavior as those of us who work in offices, factories and other more traditional workplaces. However, that's not true. Everyone should be able to feel safe from abuse and harassment in any workplace. If they don't, they have a right to take action.

That's what actress Eliza Dushku did. While working on the CBS television series Bull, Dushku says that the show's star Michael Weatherly (whom many people know from his years on the hit CBS series NCIS) made repeated inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to her, including a "joke" about a rape van. She says that when she complained about the behavior, she was fired from the show.

Dushku reached a settlement with the network for $9.5 million. That amount, according to CBS, is based on how much the actress would have earned if she had been allowed to remain on the show for the length of her contract.

Dushku says she also had to sign a confidentiality agreement that prohibited her from speaking about the harassment or the settlement. When word of the settlement got out and The New York Times published a lengthy piece about it, Dushku says she still thought she couldn't comment.

However, when both Weatherly and the show's producer commented publicly, Dushku said she felt "compelled to chronicle what actually happened." She recently did so in an op-ed in another major newspaper.

Dushku noted, "In explaining his bad behavior, Weatherly...claimed I didn't get his attempt at humor. That's how a perpetrator rationalizes when he is caught….I do not want to hear that I have a ‘humor deficit' or can't take a joke. I did not overreact. I took a job and, because I did not want to be harassed, I was fired."

The actress notes that her case was bolstered by the fact that some of Weatherly's comments were caught on tape. She says that "it often makes me think with sadness of the majority of victims who do not have the benefit of the fortunate evidence -- the tapes that I had."

Sexual harassment and retaliation for speaking out about that harassment are illegal. If you've been the victim of harassment and/or retaliation, it's wise to seek legal guidance to determine what your options are for seeking the justice and compensation you deserve.

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