NLRB filings, lawsuit charge discrimination while supervisorial candidate was running Local 16
Charlotte Laughon's story, as she tells it, followed a similar path — she told us she was prevented from joining the union, and retaliated against when she took legal roads in an attempt to rectify the situation.
Laughon and two other women, Victoria Lewis and Laura Chariton, filed a joint National Labor Relations Board charge in 1998.
Chariton declined to comment for this story.
"We just wanted to be able to join the union," Laughon told us. "I want to work in my chosen field."
The case was settled in 2000.
In the settlement agreement, Local 16 agreed to pay the women damages. The settlement also stipulated that they be permitted to join the union.
But when they joined, Laughon and Lewis say, they didn't get as much work as they wanted. They described it as being "blackballed."
At Local 16, members call in when they are free to work to be added to referral lists. Producers and directors sometimes call the union for availability lists and referrals of workers, although producers and directors also use other methods to find crews.
The women say that their names weren't being added to referral lists that the union made available to employers. Laughon says she called every week to ask to be added to the list, as well as asking for copies of the list to check if her name was on them.
Laughon said she could not recall how many EEOC and NLRB charges she filed during that time, but there were many.
Three of those charges were consolidated in July 2005, and the next year, Laughon and the union had reached another settlement agreement. It was ordered that the union furnish Laughon with back pay and send her documents detailing who was on referral lists and other information about several films that had recently been shot in San Francisco.
Crowley said that the union only settled to save money, and that he believes if the cases had gone to court, the union would have won.
Local 16 has also sued Laughon. After the 2000 settlement, the union claimed, she breached the confidentiality agreement.
"Following a resolution between the union and a member of the union, the member breached the terms of the settlement which ultimately resolved in arbitration proceeding and federal court proceeding. The union has a judgment against her in the six figure range," said Kristina Hillman, an attorney with Weinberg, Roger, and Rosenfeld, the firm that represents Local 16.
Hillman added that "The union is hopeful that she would be gainfully employed," because she could then pay the money she owes Local 16.
Laughon admitted that she hasn't paid the judgment. She denies breaching the contract, and told us the case against her had been dismissed.
Crowley said that he is named on these settlements simply because of his role as business manager, and that it has no bearing on his connection to any gender discrimination that may have taken place.
"I wasn't sued as anything else other than the head of the local. I'm responsible for taking care of those things," Crowley told us. Dealing with complaints like these is not uncommon, Crowley said, "When you're the head of an organization.
"I have a track record of advancing woman in my industry," Crowley told us. "As business manager for the stagehands, I promoted and mentored several woman to our Executive Board including the four woman who currently serve. I am also proud that I identified and recommended to the SF Opera its first female property master.
"I feel that someone's doing this to make me look bad when all I've done is the best I could."