We’ve heard some of this before, but a lawsuit filed Sunday by New York’s Attorney General makes clear that many of the people who worked for Harvey Weinstein were not only aware of what he was doing, they were required to participate in it. A press release from the AG’s office makes clear, in bullet points, that Weinstein kept a staff of female employees who were expected to act as his “wing women” and help him arrange liaisons with a list of actresses he was interested in sleeping with.
- At HW’s direction, “TWC employed one group of female employees whose primary job it was to accompany HW to events and to facilitate HW’s sexual conquests…These women were described by some witnesses as members of HW’s TWC “roster” or his “wing women.” One of the members of this entourage was flown from London to New York to teach HW’s assistants how to dress and smell more attractive to HW…”
- A second group of predominantly female employees served as his assistants. HW’s assistants were compelled to take various steps to further HW’s regular sexual activity, including by contacting “Friends of Harvey” and other prospective sexual partners via text message or phone at his direction and maintaining space on his calendar for sexual activity.
- A third group of predominantly female TWC employees– a group of female executives – also were forced to facilitate HW’s sexual conquests. These female employees’ job responsibilities should have been confined to using their expertise to help TWC produce films and television projects. Yet despite their skills and stated job responsibilities, HW required them to meet with prospective sexual conquests in order to facilitate HW’s sexual activity, and to follow through on HW’s promise of employment opportunities to women who met with HW’s favor. This compelled service demeaned and humiliated them, contributing to the hostile work environment.”
It sounds like The Weinstein Company was a film production office wrapped around a call center devoted to helping Weinstein take advantage of young actresses. Of course, the women who worked for Weinstein weren’t spared Harvey’s attention. The press release offers details on Weinstein badgering his own employees for massages, dictating memos in the nude, and telling one employee she might be fired and asking what she was willing to do to keep her job.
Some employees complained about this behavior but the Human Resources office at TWC never formally investigated a single complaint against Harvey Weinstein. He was above the law. What actually happened in some of these cases is that the company would pay off the woman making the complaint and force her to sign a non-disclosure agreement. In fact, Weinstein’s employment contract specifically stated Weinstein would be fined (but not ousted) if he were to make repeated settlement payments. As the press release puts it, his contract “monetized, rather than prohibited, ongoing acts of sexual harassment.”
NY AG Schneiderman filed the lawsuit, in part, to block the sale of TWC for $500 million to Maria Contreras-Sweet. Scuttling the sale is supposed to help ensure Weinstein’s victims are compensated, but it’s expected TWC will now be forced to file for bankruptcy.
Finally, it’s worth noting that New York’s AG is mostly known as a leading member of the Trump resistance at this point. The NY Times reported in December that he had taken 100 legal or administrative actions against the Trump administration at that point in time.