Weinstein Company sued by NY attorney general
Harvey Weinstein is being sued by the New York attorney general.
The disgraced movie mogul – who has stepped out of the public eye since he was hit by a number of accusations of sexual misconduct last October – his brother Bob Weinstein and their The Weinstein Company are accused of “repeatedly” breaking the city’s laws by “failing to protect employees from pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and discrimination.”
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in court papers filed over the weekend that any sale of the company “must ensure that victims will be compensated” and that employees will be protected.
A civil rights investigation was launched into the company following the allegations against Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment over a period of decades in October.
The 65-year-old producer’s lawyer, Ben Brafman, insisted his client’s alleged behaviour was not criminal and that many of the allegations against him are “without merit”.
He also claimed his client did not discriminate on gender grounds.
He said in a statement: “We believe that a fair investigation by Mr. Schneiderman will demonstrate that many of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein are without merit.
“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 TWC.
“If the purpose of the inquiry is to encourage reform throughout the film industry, Mr. Weinstein will embrace the investigation. If the purpose however is to scapegoat Mr. Weinstein, he will vigorously defend himself.”
And Bob Weinstein, the co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, admitted he was concerned the suit may have damaged a potentially-favourable outcome for the business and disrupted its sale to Maria Contreras-Sweet and Ron Burkle.
Speaking after it was rumoured Maria was pulling out of the deal, Bob told Deadline: “My personal feeling is, I understand the AG wanting to protect the rights of all the employees on a going forward basis.
“What I don’t understand is why things couldn’t be negotiated to meet the needs of everyone. I am the seller. If buyers objects to something the AG wanted to impose, that is out of my control. That said, perhaps somebody did not understand we were taking a company forward and trying to save jobs.
“Maria was taking as a going concern and it was going to be run by women, with Maria the chairwoman. As a result of them pulling out of the deal, now there might not be any employees to have a monitor for. That would be a great regret for this board.
“We have worked really hard to see a soft landing for people who deserve it, and all the projects we have on a going forward basis and all the ancillary people that are involved and impacted by this.”
Bob was singled out in the lawsuit for not doing enough to stop his brother’s alleged harassment and admitted he would have his own legal team address the claims as he was not asked to speak with the attorney general himself.
He said: “I will have my lawyers speak to that. I have not had any discussions with the AG since the beginning of this investigation. I welcome the opportunity to be heard, whenever he would like to speak to me.”