Anti-harassment organization Time's Up to halt operations

Anti-harassment organization Time's Up to halt operations

Time’s Up, the anti-harassment organization that was launched in 2018 during the early days of the #MeToo movement, will cease current operations in the coming days.

The Associated Press reports that board chair Gabrielle Sulzberger announced the upcoming changes. After five years, the now-embattled organization will shift its remaining funds to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, with all other operations ceasing.

The movement was launched to great fanfare at the 2018 Golden Globes: the ballgowns were black, and the night's key accessory was a pin that read “Time's Up.” Donations for a legal fund soared to the tune of $24 million and the organization was formally founded later in the year. It promised a house-cleaning of an industry rocked by the stunning allegations against mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Reuters Peter Nicholls
Time's Up protests took place around the world as the movement unfolded in 2018. - Reuters Peter Nicholls

Time’s Up was plagued by issues from the start, often accused of being too aligned with Hollywood's rich and powerful. In February 2019, CEO Lisa Borders resigned over sexual harassment allegations against her son.

There were further revelations that the leadership had undisclosed connections with former New York governor Andrew Cuomo. Reports emerged in 2021 that then-CEO Tina Tchen instructed the group to not release a statement in support of Cuomo’s initial accuser amid sexual harassment allegations. Tchen was ousted in August 2021, numerous board members stepped down, and a celebrity-powered advisory board was dissolved.

This was accompanied by a pledge for a “major reset” for the organization:

The organization made public a report prepared by an outside consultant that listed numerous deficiencies; among them being confusion over purpose and mission, ineffective communication internally and externally, the appearance of being politically partisan, and seeming too connected with Hollywood.

The staff was reduced to a skeleton crew and three remaining board members - Sulzberger, Colleen DeCourcy and actor Ashley Judd, one of Harvey Weinstein’s earliest public accusers. All three plan to step down as the organization shuts down.

Remaining funds now total about $1.7 million, according to Sulzberger, and will be moved to the group’s legal fund, administered by the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C. The millions from the early donations already went to the legal fund.

“It was not an easy decision, but the board was unanimous that it’s the right decision and the most impactful way we get to move forward,” Sulzberger told the AP.

Employment and civil rights lawyer Debra Katz, one of the US' most prominent attorneys dealing with sexual harassment cases, called the fund a crucial resource for survivors and their advocates.

Katz said it would be wrong to see the travails of Time's Up as a sign of weakness of the overall #MeToo movement.

"As movements progress and become more mature they go through phases," Katz said. "But if anything, this shows the power of this movement because victims of sexual violence came forward and said, 'We're not going to countenance this [conflict] within our organisation.’ It shows the power of individuals demanding clarity in their organisations and leaders."