Even if you’re not a legal eagle, you may at some point in your life have encountered the term “moral turpitude” when signing a contract. Employers will sometimes stick that phrase into the section dealing with termination for cause, for understandable reasons. The idea is that if you do something morally egregious, something that offends the sensibilities of the organization or brings it into public disrepute, you can be canned summarily. Your boss is under no obligation to keep an embarrassing degenerate on the payroll.
A moral turpitude clause would have come in handy for Harvey Weinstein considering that, if his accusers are to be believed, he’s been harassing, intimidating, groping, extorting, and raping women for, oh, 20-25 years now. And yet, according to TMZ, no such clause was to be found in his contract with the Weinstein Company. On the contrary, Big Harv had an unusual twist on the traditional moral turpitude provision in his agreement. If he was accused of “misconduct” and ended up settling with his accuser, he had to reimburse the company for any legal expenses it incurred in the process — and then he had to pay them a fine. Of up to a million dollars.
These sick bastards actually profited from Weinstein paying hush money to his victims.
According to the contract, if Weinstein “treated someone improperly in violation of the company’s Code of Conduct,” he must reimburse TWC for settlements or judgments. Additionally, “You [Weinstein] will pay the company liquidated damages of $250,000 for the first such instance, $500,000 for the second such instance, $750,000 for the third such instance, and $1,000,000 for each additional instance.”
The contract says as long as Weinstein pays, it constitutes a “cure” for the misconduct and no further action can be taken. Translation — Weinstein could be sued over and over and as long as he wrote a check, he keeps his job.
Jeff Blehar acidically dubs that a “grab ’em by the p***y” clause. How many board members were able to buy second, third, fourth, or fifth homes thanks to Big Harv’s rape fines?
If TMZ is right, the only ways Weinstein could be rightly fired under the agreement were if he was indicted or convicted of a crime (stay tuned!) or if he committed a “material fraud” against the company. In theory, him telling the company that he was paying hush money over *consensual* affairs instead of criminal acts would amount to fraud, which would justify him being fired a few days ago. But hold on: The agreement also says he was entitled to mediation and eventually arbitration with the company before he was canned, which wasn’t granted to him. That is to say, Harvey Weinstein, currently accused by dozens of women of acts ranging from extreme skeeviness to aggravated felony, may have been … improperly terminated under his contract.
Rose McGowan, Weinstein’s most outspoken accuser, has spent the last few days begging Twitter followers to support her in calling on the Weinstein Company to dissolve its board of directors and shut down. There may be no need, though. Half the board already quit after the NYT published its expose, and now the remaining rats are scurrying:
The two men now running the firm, Weinstein’s brother Bob and the company’s president David Glasser, could be the next out the door, a company official and two Hollywood executives told CNN.
The two Weinstein Co. executives are coming under severe scrutiny because some of the allegations of misconduct by Harvey Weinstein date back decades, which raises the question: Why didn’t people in a position to know do more?…
Other Weinstein Co. executives and people close to the company are deeply concerned about the likelihood of lawsuits against the company…
The law firm’s investigation may also examine how Weinstein’s staffers facilitated his meetings with women who now accuse him of wrongdoing.
Even if they survive lawsuits, they may not survive lost business. Case in point:
— Quiara A Hudes (@quiarahudes) October 12, 2017
One more point to put the TMZ piece in context. Per a Times story earlier today, the Weinstein Company board was aware of “three or four” settlements that Weinstein was involved in when it negotiated his new contract in 2015. That’s three or four instances of “misconduct” before they re-signed him as an employee. Given his legendary temper, given the “open secret” status of his treatment of women throughout the industry, any corporate board that was genuinely concerned about his behavior could have and would have used that as an opportunity to investigate precisely what he was doing with these women before handing him a lucrative new deal. Were they really consensual affairs or were they something else? At the barest, barest, barest minimum, if they were so ethically decrepit that they were willing to keep him on anyway (it was “the Weinstein Company,” after all), they could have laid down the law with a zero tolerance policy by adding a moral turpitude clause to his new contract. Any settlement of any sort, even for “consensual” behavior, would be grounds for firing. Instead they allowed him to pay damages, with no limit to how many times he could transgress. The arrangement was, quite literally, pay to prey.
Here he is at a Women’s March a few months ago, ostensibly signaling his wokeness but in all probability scouting for targets.
Harvey Weinstein at the January 2017 Women's March in Park City, Utah. pic.twitter.com/WdVmlZjWA6
— jodikantor (@jodikantor) October 6, 2017