The Weinstein Co. was founded by brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein and holds a substantial film library — 277 films that generated over $2 billion combined in worldwide box office receipts. The company’s films have also won 28 Academy Awards.
Since allegations about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct last October, however, it has lost some 25 percent of its workforce and many long-term business partners. After failing to secure a buyer, the company has filed for bankruptcy. Now, it is releasing all alleged witnesses and victims of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct from any nondisclosure agreements they signed with the company.
“We are not here to protect Harvey Weinstein,” says a Weinstein Co. attorney. He added that the company’s bankruptcy filing will not impede anyone from pursuing claims directly against Harvey Weinstein.
Harvey Weinstein has been accused by more than 70 women of sexual harassment, misconduct and, in some cases, rape. He denies any allegations of non-consensual sex.
The company released anyone “who suffered or witnessed any form of sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein” from Weinstein Co. nondisclosure agreements.
“Since October, it has been reported that Harvey Weinstein used nondisclosure agreements as a secret weapon to silence his accusers. Effective immediately, those ‘agreements’ end,” the company said in a statement.
What will happen to the Weinstein claims in a Weinstein Co. bankruptcy?
Releasing the nondisclosure agreements means that any such agreements that were made with the Weinstein Co. will no longer be enforced. It is unlikely, however, that any release of the nondisclosure agreement will void the entire agreement — which could include releases and waivers of claims against Weinstein Co. and Harvey Weinstein personally. That means that while victims may be able to speak out due to the release, they still may be barred from bringing claims against either the Company or Harvey Weinstein himself.
Furthermore, if alleged victims have already filed civil claims against the Weinstein Co., it may be a challenge to collect any damages from the company. Lawsuits are on hold while the bankruptcy proceeds, and any verdicts or settlements would be added to a line of creditors owed money. Secured creditors — those with collateral — are generally paid first. It is unclear what will happen to the civil rights lawsuit recently initiated by the state of New York.
The bankruptcy will have no effect on an alleged victim’s ability to bring or continue claims against Harvey Weinstein directly. He would be personally responsible for paying any such claims, if successful.
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