Netflix allegedly implemented a creative, yet outwardly restrictive employee policy aimed to reduce harassment in the workplace. The reported new rules prohibit employees from looking at fellow co-workers for more than five seconds.
“Senior staff went to a harassment meeting to learn what is and isn’t appropriate,” an on-set runner for the sci-fi series Black Mirror told The Sun. “Looking at anyone longer than five seconds is considered creepy.”
Another ban under the alleged anti-harassment policy includes asking co-workers for their phone numbers. Unless the employee has given specific permission to reveal their phone number, someone asking for it is considered inappropriate behavior, according to the on-set runner.
“Lingering hugs” and touching another colleague for a “lengthy period of time” is also against the anti-harassment policy. A Netflix employee cannot ask a co-worker on a date more than once and must avoid each other if the date is declined the first time. Flirting is considered taboo as well.
Workers are urged to yell “stop, don’t do that” if another worker refuses to comply with the rules, per the Daily Mail. Other than that, it is hard to imagine how Netflix could enforce the policy.
Jokes about the anti-harassment policy are already rampant within Netflix. The runner says colleagues now have an ongoing joke where they look at each other, count to five, and look away.
Netflix has not confirmed nor denied such a policy exists, only saying they are proud of their “anti-harassment training.”
“We want every Netflix production to be a safe and respectful working environment. We believe the resources we offer empower people on our sets to speak up and shouldn’t be trivialized.”
If the Netflix anti-harassment rules are real, the company’s response likely stems from the Me Too movement and the fallout received after Kevin Spacey, the star of House of Cards, was accused of sexual misconduct. The streaming giant would be wise to distance itself as much as possible from any potential harassment claims, and this may be the way they are doing it.
At some point, Netflix will likely address if the new rules are a reality. For now, we’ll have to wait and see if the streaming company has officially banned “lingering hugs” and employees looking at each for more than five seconds.