New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Company for “failing to protect its employees from pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and discrimination,” as violations of New York state law.NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL SUING WEINSTEIN COMPANY
Schneiderman launched a civil rights probe into the New York City-based film company in October just after the New York Times and New Yorker published an exposé on the sexual harassment claims against Weinstein. Since then, the company has fired Weinstein.
“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 added in a news release. “Every New Yorker has a right to a workplace free of sexual harassment, intimidation, and fear.”
In response, the company took the defensive: “We are disappointed that the New York Attorney General felt it necessary to file today’s complaint. Many of the allegations relating to the Board are inaccurate and the Board looks forward to bringing the facts to light as part of its ongoing commitment to resolve this difficult situation in the most appropriate way.”
The attorney general’s office stated that the decision to bring the lawsuit was partly in response to the current sale of the film company. It believed that the sale would leave victims inadequately taken care of and repaid.
“With respect to the Company’s ongoing sale process, the Board sought a transaction to preserve jobs and create a victim fund,” the Weinstein Company said in response. “Any suggestion that the Company or its Board somehow impeded or discouraged the buyer’s access to the New York Attorney General is simply untrue. Indeed, the Company and its Board actively encouraged the buyer to communicate with the Attorney General. The Company looks forward to continuing our discussions with the Attorney General in order to reach our common goal of bringing this situation to an appropriate resolution.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, and ongoing proposed sale of the company by businesswoman Maria Contreras-Sweet was nearing a deal for $500 million, including the assumption of debt. Though the attorney general didn’t halt the sale, the newspaper reports that Contreras-Sweet pulled out of the deal because of too much uncertainty with the lawsuit.
Weinstein’s lawyer Ben Brafman claims the investigation will not be successful, and that the allegations agains 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 [The Weinstein Company],” the lawyer said in a statement. “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.”