- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed a civil rights lawsuit against former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company.
- The suit targets Harvey Weinstein for allegations of sexual misconduct and also alleges there was “routine misuse of corporate resources for unlawful ends” from 2005 through October 2017.
- According to the lawsuit, Weinstein told several employees “I will kill you” or “I will kill your family” and forced female employees to facilitate his sexual pursuits.
- The suit also alleges that Harvey’s brother, Robert Weinstein, and several other board members at The Weinstein Company knew about Harvey’s actions and paid employees for ongoing acts of harassment.
- In all, more than 60 women have accused Weinstein of varying degrees of sexual misconduct.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed a civil rights lawsuit against former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company.
According to court documents, the lawsuit seeks to “remedy a years-long gender-based hostile work environment.” It targets Harvey Weinstein for allegations of sexual misconduct, as well as the executives and board of The Weinstein Company for failing to protect employees from Weinstein.
Charges were filed in the New York Supreme Court and include new and “extensive” allegations against Weinstein.
According to the suit, despite many complaints to the company’s human resources department and widespread knowledge of misconduct allegations, the company failed to take “meaningful” steps to protect its employees.
The suit also alleges there was “routine misuse of corporate resources for unlawful ends” from 2005 through October 2017.
Earlier this month, it was reported that The Weinstein Company is reportedly in the process of being sold for up to $US500 million.
“Any sale of The Weinstein Company must ensure that victims will be compensated, employees will be protected going forward, and that neither perpetrators nor enablers will be unjustly enriched,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Every New Yorker has a right to a workplace free of sexual harassment, intimidation, and fear.”
The suit comes after a four-month investigation by the Attorney General’s office into mounting allegations against Weinstein and The Weinstein Company.
In November 2017, it was reported Manhattan District Attorney Cyprus Vance planned to pursue rape charges against Weinstein.
At the time, New York Police Department investigators said they were gathering “credible” evidence of rape by Weinstein, and planned to seek an arrest warrant.
The New York Times first reported on the claims against Weinstein in October, and The New Yorker followed up with several new detailed allegations shortly after. In all, more than 60 women have accused Weinstein of varying degrees of sexual misconduct.
Weinstein told employees “I will kill you”
New details from the lawsuit give greater insight into Weinstein’s empire and how he masterminded years of alleged sexual misconduct and abuse.
According to the lawsuit, Weinstein told several employees “I will kill you” or “I will kill your family.” He also told employees “you don’t know what I can do” and often touted his connection to powerful political figures and reported contacts within the Secret Service that could “take care of problems.”
The suit also describes how Weinstein manipulated and intimidated groups of female employees.
The Weinstein Company allegedly employed a group of female employees whose primary job was to accompany Weinstein to major Hollywood events and facilitate his sexual “conquests.”
According to the suit, witnesses described the women as Harvey’s “wing-women” or “roster.”
One of Harvey’s “wing-women” was allegedly flown from London to New York to teach his personal assistants how to “dress and smell more attractive” to Weinstein, the lawsuit said.
A second group of female employees allegedly served as Weinstein’s assistants. His assistants were allegedly tasked with scheduling his “regular sexual activity,” by contacting a list of women, referred to as “Friends of Harvey,” who were prospective sexual partners.
The “Friends” list reportedly included the names of 63 women based around the world, and their locations, Vanity Fair reported earlier this month.
The suit alleges a third group of predominantly female executives were forced to facilitate Weinstein’s sexual escapades, by following through on Weinstein’s promises of “employment opportunities” to women Weinstein favoured.
“This compelled service demeaned and humiliated them,” the suit said, and contributed to the “hostile work environment.”
One female executive allegedly told human resources: “Female TWC employees are essentially used to facilitate his sexual conquests of vulnerable women who hope he will get them work.”
According to the suit, The Weinstein Company took no actions to investigate the claims or prevent such behaviour.
Robert Weinstein and other company board members covered Harvey’s tracks
The lawsuit also alleges Harvey’s brother Robert Weinstein, and several other high-ranking board members at The Weinstein Company knew about sexual misconduct by Harvey and actively disregarded or attempted to pay victims for claims.
According to the suit, Robert Weinstein, co-owner, co-chairman, and co-CEO of The Weinstein Company, was responsible for maintaining workplace safety, and did little to enforce concrete measures to prevent Harvey’s continued misconduct at the time.
Robert also allegedly recieved emails and was informed in late 2014 and 2015 of repeated and persistant cases of sexual harrasment by Harvey. However, the suit alleges he did not use his influence to further investigate claims, terminate Harvey’s employment, or restrict Harvey from supervising women or having contact with women seeking to do business with their company.
The lawsuit alleges that independant board members sought to obtain access to Harvey’s personnel file so that counsel representing the Board could use the information to determine whether the Board would recommend renewal of Harvey’s contract.
Harvey allegedly resisted the independant board member’s efforts and tried to prevent access to his own file to avoid the discovery of the details surrounding his misconduct claims. A majority of board members at The Weinstein Company refused to back the independant board’s inquiry into Harvey’s personnel file and as a result, no action was taken.
Additionally, Harvey’s contract was extended, and allegedly included a provision to pay victims if they had experienced sexual misconduct at Harvey’s hand.
According to the suit, the contract stated that The Weinstein Company had to “make a payment to satisfy a claim that you [i.e., Harvey Weinstein] have treated someone improperly in violation of the Company’s Code of Conduct.”
The contract stated that Harvey would face escalating financial penalties that would be paid to victims of Harvey’s misconduct – $US250,000 for the first such instance, “$US500,000, for the second such instance, $US750,000 for the third such instance, and $US1,000,000 for each such additional instance.”
The suit alleges that the contract contained no provision for any penalties if Harvey personally paid to satisfy claims of misconduct, and provided no additional employment consequences in the event that escalating payments had to be made by The Weinstein Company or Harvey himself.
According to the lawsuit, this effectively allowed Harvey to continue engaging in sexual harrasment “with impunity” so long as payments to victims were made and he avoided disclosure of incidents that might risk “serious harm to the company.”
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