If cinema mogul Harvey Weinstein thought he had seen the last of the sexual harassment and assault allegations against him, he was wrong. After dozens of women, including famous actresses, came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct and rape, Weinstein was forced out of his companies Miramax and The Weinstein Company, and expelled from the Motion Picture Academy.
Through his attorney, Weinstein has claimed that many of the allegations are without merit and went on to claim that he has been, overall, a positive force for women in the film industry.
“While Mr. Weinstein’s behavior was not without fault, there certainly was no criminality, and at the end of the inquiry it will be clear that Harvey Weinstein promoted more women to key executive positions than any other industry leader and there was zero discrimination at either Miramax or [The Weinstein Company],” Weinstein’s lawyer stated.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman disagrees. In October, shortly after the first few sexual assault and harassment claims came out against Weinstein, Schneiderman launched a civil rights investigation into the Weinstein Company. That investigation is now complete and Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Weinstein Company employees who work or have worked in New York.
In part, Schneiderman’s intent in filing the lawsuit is to affect the upcoming sale of the company. The Attorney General believes the sale could otherwise leave victims without sufficient redress. His goal is to ensure that any sale fairly compensates affected employees and that the perpetrators and enablers of sexual misconduct are not unjustly enriched.
“To work for Harvey Weinstein was to work under a persistent barrage of gender-based obscenities, vulgar name-calling, sexualized interactions, threats of violence, and a workplace general hostile to women,” reads the lawsuit.
It goes on to describe threats Weinstein made against employees (“I will kill you, I will kill your family”) along with anti-woman slurs (making babies was all one female employee was good for). It also alleges that female executives were made to facilitate Weinstein’s sexual activities, often in exchange for employment opportunities.
In any company, the leadership is responsible for maintaining a workplace free of unlawful discrimination or harassment. That includes responding appropriately when they are made aware of unlawful activities. In this lawsuit, Attorney General Schneiderman claims that the company and Harvey Weinstein’s brother Robert were well aware of the problem.
They “are liable because they were aware of and acquiesced in repeated and persistent unlawful conduct by failing to investigate or stop it,” the lawsuit states.
No hearing dates have been announced.