The California Supreme Court yesterday threw out a lawsuit by a former Friends writer’s assistant that alleged sexual harassment in the writer’s room.
The harassment was not of the quid-pro-quo “sleep with me if you want a script assignment” kind, but rather the more difficult to assess “uncomfortable work environment” variety. And the court ruled that an atmosphere of sexually oriented jokes and language was in fact intrinsic to the creative process, at least in the case of a show that was as steamy as Friends.
The huge wheezing sound you hear is the giant sigh of relief coming out of Los Angeles. The fact is, “what happens in the room stays in the room” has been the policy long before Vegas copped the slogan. The writer’s room is a place for an unedited flow of ideas, and some people, when unedited, like to work a little blue. Of course anyone who ever goes near the room (or show business in general) is thoroughly warned about the occasional tenor of the conversation, and we are quick to stop anything that is clearly upsetting someone. The
bottom line is that if the former assistant had won her suit, the floodgates might have opened, and practically everyone with a WGA card would have many sleepless nights ahead.