You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Harvey Weinstein Scandal Leaves His Company ‘Extremely Vulnerable’

The Weinstein Company faces potential legal jeopardy in the wake of a New York Times expose detailing sexual harassment claims against co-chairman Harvey Weinstein.

Though the cases referenced in the story have been settled, it is now possible that new accusers could come forward.

“His company is extremely vulnerable,” says Debbie Katz, a Washington, D.C., attorney who represents plaintiffs in harassment suits. “The board has been on notice that there is significant misconduct, settlement moneys have been paid, and there has been no corrective action.”

The Times story alleged a pattern of behavior, in which Weinstein would meet with actresses or young female employees at hotel rooms. According to the story, he would either expose himself or encourage the women to give him nude massages. A former employee, Lauren O’Connor, made a detailed complaint about Weinstein’s behavior, which reached the board level. However, according to the Times, the complaint was quickly settled and the board opted not to investigate.

Weinstein announced Thursday that he would take a leave of absence, prompting some to conclude that more allegations are yet to come.

“I don’t think the full story is out,” said attorney Mark Geragos. “If he’s stepping aside, they’ve obviously made a calculation this is a very serious matter.”

It is possible that other women who experienced misconduct and who will now be emboldened to come forward.

“It’s a pattern of behavior,” says Courtney Abrams, a Los Angeles attorney at Helmer Friedman LLP. “Usually what happens when a sexual harassment lawsuit is filed is that other women feel there’s safety in numbers.”

The key question, as far as legal liability is concerned, is whether the alleged activity falls within the statute of limitations. In California, where much of the misconduct in the Times story is alleged to have occurred, plaintiffs must file an administrative charge with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing within a year. Once that is filed, they have another year to file a lawsuit.

“I’m sure we’ll be hearing from more people about what their experiences were with him,” says plaintiff’s attorney Lisa Maki. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

Though Weinstein disputes many of the allegations, and his attorney has even threatened to sue the Times, he has been careful not to disparage any of the accusers. Doing so could expose him to defamation claims.

Weinstein also apologized on Thursday and said he had retained attorney Lisa Bloom, who typically represents plaintiffs in high-profile harassment cases, to help educate him about harassment and help him “grow into a better man.”

Katz said she found that response “insulting,” and not a serious reaction to allegations of decades of systemic misconduct.

“He knows what the law is,” she said. “Someone who has his power and abuses his power does it because he can, not because he doesn’t know it’s wrong.”

Katz said the Weinstein Company’s response so far has been wholly inadequate.

“They need to bring in a credible outside entity to investigate,” she said. “Employees need to be given really serious assurances that there will be no retaliation. They’re looking to see which way this thing is going to go — is Weinstein going to continue or be pushed out?”

More Biz

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Charged With Filing False Police Report

    “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report, the Chicago police said Wednesday. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter. Smollett is due to appear in court for a bond hearing at 1:30 p.m. [...]

  • Coast Guard Lieutenant Hit List

    Coast Guard Lieutenant Targeted CNN, MSNBC Anchors and Democrats for Attacks

    Anchors at CNN and MSNBC and prominent Democrats were targeted for attack by a Coast Guard lieutenant arrested Friday on a firearms charge, according to federal prosecutors in Maryland. In court documents revealed Tuesday, prosecutors describe the firearms and controlled substance charges Christopher Paul Hasson is facing as “the proverbial tip of the iceberg.” CNN’s [...]

  • Jussie Smollett suspect

    Jussie Smollett Named a Suspect by Chicago Police for Filing False Report

    Chicago police have named “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett as a suspect in a criminal investigation, three weeks after he reported he was the victim of a hate crime. Detectives are presenting evidence to a grand jury, which is expected to determine whether to indict Smollett on a charge of filing a false police report. “Jussie [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    WGA, Agents Face Tough Issues on New Franchise Pact (Column)

    The Writers Guild of America and the major talent agencies are seven weeks away from a deadline that could force film and TV writers to choose between their agents and their union. This is a battle that has been brewing for a year but few in the industry saw coming until a few weeks ago. [...]

  • Island Records Names Christine Kauffman Senior

    Island Records Names Christine Kauffman Senior VP of Brand Partnerships

    Veteran advertising executive Christine Kauffman has been named senior VP of brand partnerships at Island Records, the company announced today. She will be based in New York and report to Island COO Eric Wong. In making the announcement, Island President Darcus Beese said, “The fast-paced and competitive field of strategic brand marketing has become an [...]

  • Latin Music Veteran Nir Serioussi Joins

    Latin Music Veteran Nir Serioussi Joins Interscope as Executive VP

    Interscope Geffen A&M announced today that veteran executive, producer and songwriter Nir Seroussi will join the company as executive vice president. The announcement was made by Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman and CEO John Janick, to whom Serioussi will report. (Seroussi, center, is pictured above with Janick, left, and Interscope EVP Joie Manda.) According to the [...]

  • Tan FranceUnforgettable Gala, Inside, Los Angeles,

    'Queer Eye' Star Tan France to Host Audiobook Audie Awards

    “Queer Eye” resident style expert Tan France is taking on a slightly different project next month as he hosts the Audie Awards, which honors the best releases and achievements in audiobooks over the past 12 months. The ceremony, which takes place on March 4 in New York, is an annual event organized by the Audio [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content