Enough is Enough: An Open Letter from Survivors to TIME’S UP + National Women’s Law Center
To the TIME’S UP Foundation Governing Board & The National Women's Law Center Board of Directors:
We write to you as a collective group of survivors and victims who believe TIME’S UP is failing the survivor community. We believed in your mission and hoped that your investment in eradicating sexual assault and harassment in the workplace would change the tide to support us as we came forward, but we are disappointed.
TIME’S UP has abandoned the very people it was supposed to champion. The board continues to fail to heed the outcry from survivors. TIME’S UP is failing all survivors.
We were dismayed yet unsurprised to see TIME’S UP leaders Roberta Kaplan and Tina Tchen named in the 165 page Attorney General’s report investigating the allegations of sexual harassment by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In the detailed report, Kaplan and Tchen, in their roles at TIME’S UP, weaponized their knowledge of survivors experiences to help Governor Cuomo and his office retaliate against at least one of nearly a dozen women who were courageous in speaking up about the myriad of ways he abused his power and violated their bodies in the workplace. Furthermore, we were vexed to see TIME’S UP board member, Hilary Rosen, characterize this breach of trust as ‘a good deed being punished’ and that it’s normal for TIME’S UP to “[do] what they always do, give good advice to politicians to tell the truth and not attack their accusers.” There is a consistent pattern of behavior where the decision-makers at TIME’S UP continue to align themselves with abusers at the expense of survivors. TIME’S UP should be ashamed.
TIME’S UP has prioritized its proximity to power over mission. And now that TIME’S UP’s board members’ and staff’s actions have come to light, you cannot rewrite history by signing open letters to the New York State Senate and Assembly calling on them to remove Governor Cuomo from office when you actively worked to further his defense behind closed doors.
Instead of helping survivors remain at the center of our own stories, we find out in the press that you were consulted by abusers to aid them in victim-blaming and undermining our ability to come forward. This behavior harms all survivors. This behavior discourages survivors from seeking support and speaking out and causes ripples of distrust felt throughout our movement. This behavior has us questioning who we can truly trust. Whether or not you agreed to help, perpetrators of harm felt comfortable reaching out to you for crisis management. That is a problem.
This is not the first time TIME’S UP is complicit in enabling abuse. Earlier this year, TIME’S UP Healthcare board members resigned en masse after allegations that board member Dr. Esther Choo was accused “of brushing off an allegation of sexual misconduct” that was brought to her attention by a coworker at Oregon Health and Science University. Despite calls to step down, Choo remains on the board and is now being represented by fellow board member Roberta Kaplan.
In 2020, the New York Post reported that Kaplan is also representing Goldman Sachs in a workplace sexual harassment case. While the National Women’s Law Center maintains that, “Ms. Kaplan’s decision to represent Goldman Sachs in the matter at hand was made in her personal capacity, and with no involvement by the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund,” we can’t help but feel disheartened that once again a TIME’S UP board member is playing both sides. Our lives are not a game. Our experiences of abuse are not research for your next big case. TIME’S UP cannot be funded by and seek the support of corporations accused of harboring perpetrators of harm. TIME’S UP cannot call for shining a light on sexual harassment and justice while working with our abusers in the shadows.
TIME’S UP is deceiving survivors. You asked us to come to you and trust you with our stories and our cases. We trusted that you had our best interests at heart. We trusted that what you said in public would match the support we’d receive in private. Survivors are so often let down by the system of justice in this country, and it is heartbreaking to see that TIME’S UP has become a willing participant in that never-ending labyrinth. The pattern of your behavior shows you do not deserve our trust any longer without serious structural changes.
TIME’S UP has lost its way.
TIME’S UP and the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund were founded and funded to be visionary organizations meant to provide three-dimensional support to victims and survivors as we navigate the legal system and the public eye. TIME’S UP and TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund were built to advocate for those who make the bold decision to hold our abusers accountable.
But it seems that vision was lost and leadership drifted from who mattered most: survivors and victims.
For those of us who have worked directly with you, we haven’t received the wraparound support that you’ve promised in the press. TIME’S UP leadership has looked the other way while lawyers, funded by the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, mishandled and neglected cases, missed statutes of limitations deadlines denying us our day in court, and even berating and patronizing survivors during meetings while bungling their cases.
In our experiences, it felt as if TIME’S UP preferred to enable the delays in our cases to the point of dangerous escalation to give the organization the opportunity to swoop in at the last minute, offering minimal solutions to be the heroes for press and donors. In some instances, TIME’S UP has withheld financial assistance and proactive public relations support for survivors and victims, only to pounce when they receive pushback or negative press coverage.
To make matters worse, TIME’S UP has spun these incidents to donors and the press to falsely demonstrate the vitality of their work without regard for the emotional toll it takes on us. Survivors, not donors or the media, should be the driving force behind the work. TIME’S UP designed its entire mission, values, and operation around survivors and victims — it’s time we actually feel it.
Many of us have attempted to have one-on-one conversations with TIME’S UP leadership, but we were overlooked. As we’ve done so many times before as survivors and advocates, we raise our voices now in hope of creating systemic change.
To begin to repair the harm done, we ask that TIME’S UP and the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund:
- Conduct a third-party investigation and issue a detailed report illustrating the full extent to which TIME’S UP and National Women’s Law Center board members and staff members have been approached by, offered advice to, or are representing perpetrators of harm.
- Remove any board members, and staffers, who have supported perpetrators of harm, effective immediately.
- Return and refuse any donations by individuals and corporations that have active allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or are litigating in opposition to survivors.
- Cease all partnerships with any individuals or corporations that have active allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or are litigating in opposition to survivors.
- Publish a report detailing the breakdown of the TIME’S UP and TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund’s budgets and what percentage of funds are dedicated to survivors and victim’s cases, media relations, and emotional and physical support.
- Form a Survivor Advisory Council before the end of 2021 to ensure that those being served by TIME’S UP and TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund are directly involved in organizational oversight and strategic visioning.
- Affirm that a majority of TIME’S UP and TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund programming is led by and inclusive of survivors and victims.
- Establish a survivor-led vetting process for TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund lawyers and public relations staffers to ensure that all personnel representing survivors and victims have the temperament for and experience in sexual harassment, abuse, misconduct, and assault cases using a survivor-centric lens.
We are the change we want to see. We spoke out about our sexual harassment and sexual assault experiences so that others knew they weren’t alone and could feel supported when they too came forward. We want to create a system of true justice, for survivors and victims, led by survivors and victims. We know there are so many survivors and victims with stories they want to tell. They are simply waiting on a call back from the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund to listen to their case. TIME’S UP must no longer delay our justice.
TIME’S UP’s intent was to make this world a better place for survivors and victims; that can still happen if changes are implemented immediately.
TIME’S UP’s legacy should be lifting up survivor voices and helping us hold our abusers accountable. This is the responsibility and commitment that TIME’S UP made. Survivors put their trust in TIME’S UP. Show up for survivors.
We are asking TIME’S UP to do better by us, and all survivors and victims who come to you seeking counsel. Please don’t make coming forward harder.
As TIME’S UP wrote in the open letter to the CBS board of directors “real progress can only occur with a transparent commitment to long-term structural changes from top to bottom.” This is your opportunity to make real progress.
We believe in the power of survivors. We hope you do too.
1. Abby Haglage
3. Aerica Shimizu Banks
4. Alaina Hampton, former TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund client
5. Alessandra Biaggi
6. Alexia Norton Jones, former TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund client
7. Alison Turkos
8. Alissa Vierra
9. Allison Ivie
10. Ally Alexander
11. Amanda Wallwin
12. Amelia Tramontano
13. Amy Dorris
14. Andrea Tantaros
15. Angela Webster
16. Annabelle Dixon
26. Anonymous, current TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund client
27. Anonymous, current TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund client
28. Anonymous, former TIME’S UP staffer
29. Anonymous, former TIME’S UP staffer
30. Anonymous, former TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund client
31. Anonymous, former TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund client
33. Asher Lovy
35. Belinda Baker
36. c m taylor
37. Cara Thaxton
38. Carolyn G. Curtis
39. Carson Bell
40. Charlotte Bennett
41. Charlotte Laughon
42. Chel Miller
43. Chelsey Glasson
44. Christie Roe
45. Christine S.
46. Clare Lyons, RN
48. Colleen Kennedy
49. Crista Anne
50. Danielle Campoamor
51. Delia Harrington
52. Dolores Ann Lozano
53. Dominique Huett, current TIME’S UP Safety Working Group member
54. Drew Dixon
56. Eiko Ishiwata
57. Elena Rahona
58. Elizabeth Blackney
59. Elizabeth Crothers
60. Emily O’Malley
61. Emily Reilly
62. Erica L Mitchell
63. Erica Vladimer
65. Eva Crowder
66. Fabiola Mendieta-Cuapio
67. Geoff Beane
70. Grace Cunningham
71. Holly G Atkinson
72. I. E. McElroy
73. Jaclyn Friedman
74. Janice L. Daniels, former TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund client
75. Jayna Boyle
76. Jenny Carr
77. Jessica Gottsleben
78. Joan Spinelli
81. Julie Macfarlane
83. Karen Boylan
85. Kat Sutherland
86. Katharina Kelton
87. Katherine Barnes
88. Katherine Miller
89. Katie Brennan, former TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund client
90. Katrina Basch
91. Kavita Mehra
92. Kelsey Harper
94. Kir Selert
95. Laura Goldman
96. Lauren Weingarten, former TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund client
97. Lawren W
98. Leah Hebert
100. Lizzette Martinez, former TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund client
102. Madeline Comer
103. Madison Campbell
104. Marguerite B.
105. Marissa Hoechstetter
106. Marissa McKool, MPH
107. Mary Ellen Oloughlin
108. Mary Rinaldi
109. M.B, former TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund client
110. Megan Malloy, former TIME’S UP staffer
111. Melinda Fox
112. Melissa Schuman
113. Michelle Roy
115. Natalie Ryan Fong
116. Natasha Anushri Anandaraja MD, MPH
118. Pamela Guest, current TIME’S UP Safety Working Group member
119. Pattie Henry
120. Pringl Miller MD FACS
121. Racheal Stirling
122. Rachel Earnest
123. Rachel izzo, BSN RN CEN
124. Roya Gholami
125. Sage Carson
126. Sally Canfield
127. Sam H
128. Sandra Muller
129. Sara Atkins
130. Sarah Nesbitt
131. Sarah Szalavitz
133. Seema Zeya
134. Seo-Young Chu
135. Shannon Keeler
137. Shelley Ross
140. Stella Safo
141. Susan P.
142. Tara Reade, former TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund client
144. Teresa Ginsberg
145. Timothy Lennon
146. Verity Nevitt
147. Vivian Chang
148. Wagatwe Wanjuki
149. Yasmeen Hussain
150. Yuh-Line Niou, New York State Assembly for the 65th district
151. Zoe Brock
(If you are a survivor-victim and would like to join us you can sign onto the letter here)
(please note at 3:10pm EST on Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 this letter was edited to include the National Women’s Law Center Board of Directors as addressees)