Friday, 23 February, 2018

Sale of Harvey Weinstein's company up in air after lawsuit

Kevork Djansezian  Reuters                       Harvey Weinstein poses at an event in Beverly Hills Kevork Djansezian Reuters Harvey Weinstein poses at an event in Beverly Hills
Ellis Copeland | 15 February, 2018, 14:30

New York Attorney General Eric T Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, his brother Bob, and their production house on their alleged failure to uphold the state and city laws against gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

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. "Every New Yorker has a right to a workplace free of sexual harassment, intimidation, and fear".

His attorney released a statement saying numerous allegations against his client are "without merit".

"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".

The attorney general insisted that any deal to buy the company must ensure victims are "adequately compensated", that employees "be protected moving forward" and that executives involved in misconduct do not receive rewards. In October, the New York Times published an expose of how Harvey had sexually harassed or abused actresses and employees for nearly three decades, and his behavior was allegedly faciliated by talent agents, assistants, and executives at the Weinstein Company.

The court papers describe Weinstein as a kingmaker who could "essentially blacklist a person across the industry" if they crossed him and that he could use his roster of powerful people to enact reprisals.

He added, "If the objective of the inquiry is to encourage reform throughout the film industry, Mr. Weinstein will embrace the investigation".

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The case has been filed electronically in Manhattan's State Supreme Court and the timing is expected to cause a delay in the sale of The Weinstein Company (TWC), which is facing bankruptcy, the New York Times reported.

The timing of the suit is no coincidence: It comes just as The Weinstein Company-which has been in peril since the first wave of abuse allegations broke last October-was preparing to be sold to an investor group for an estimated $500 million. Actress Dominique Huett claimed Weinstein performed an act on himself in front of her and then on her in 2010.

"We obtained a form of Mr. Weinstein's personnel file; we were told that the physical personnel file had gone missing, which is another issue of concern to us", Schneiderman said.

"When an attorney for a purchaser says 'Why should we talk to you?' that tells you all you need to hear", Mr Schneiderman said.

While the parties were still working on the terms when the suit was filed, 15 per cent of the emerging company would have been owned by Mr Burkle, the source said.

"As of yesterday there was no deal that would have met these standards", Schneiderman said.

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