A group of Weinstein Company staffers are asking to be released from non-disclosure agreements in the wake of a sexual harassment and abuse scandal that has engulfed the company and led to the ouster of co-founder Harvey Weinstein. In a statement to the New Yorker, the staffers insist that while they were aware of their boss’ philandering, they did not witness any direct harassment. Some 40 women have alleged that Weinstein either used his position to pressure them to have sexual relations or forced himself on them.
“We all knew that we were working for a man with an infamous temper,” the statement reads. “We did not know we were working for a serial sexual predator. We knew that our boss could be manipulative. We did not know that he used his power to systematically assault and silence women. We had an idea that he was a womanizer who had extra-marital affairs. We did not know he was a violent aggressor and alleged rapist.”
They go on to say that they want to be allowed to participate in a broader dialogue about Weinstein’s alleged misbehavior and abuse, and call on the company to allow them to speak up.
“We have nothing to hide, and are as angry and baffled as you are at how Harvey’s behavior could continue for so long,” the statement continues. “We ask that the company let us out of our NDAs immediately – and do the same for all former Weinstein Company employees – so we may speak openly, and get to the origins of what happened here, and how.”
The New Yorker published a longer piece by Amy Goodyear about how staffers at the studio behind “Project Runway” and “The King’s Speech” were grappling with the ongoing scandal and constant media coverage. The atmosphere was funereal after an initial New York Times story hit, documenting alleged harassment. Five days later, when the New Yorker published a piece alleging that Weinstein had assaulted women, Goodyear writes, “Some [staffers] began to shake, and many of them wept as they contemplated the roles they might have played as accomplices, unwitting or not.
See the full statement below.
We came to work at this company because we love movies. We grew up watching Miramax films, and came to associate that name, and later the name Weinstein, with great storytelling.
Some of us have been here for years, others for just for a few months. Some have been here since their first college internship, others joined the team after a rigorous application process. All of us were excited to get the job, proud to be working for a company with such an illustrious history.
We all knew that we were working for a man with an infamous temper. We did not know we were working for a serial sexual predator. We knew that our boss could be manipulative. We did not know that he used his power to systematically assault and silence women. We had an idea that he was a womanizer who had extra-marital affairs. We did not know he was a violent aggressor and alleged rapist.
But to say that we are shocked and surprised only makes us part of the problem.
Our company was built on Harvey’s unbridled ambition – his aggressive deal making, his insatiable desire to win and get what he wanted, his unabashed love for celebrity – these traits were legendary, and the art they produced made an indelible mark on the entertainment industry.
But we now know that behind closed doors, these were the same traits that made him a monster. He created a toxic ecosystem where his abuse could flourish unchecked for decades.
We know that in writing this we are in open breach of the non-disclosure agreements in our contracts. But our former boss is in open violation of his contract with us – the employees – to create a safe place for us to work.
We have nothing to hide, and are as angry and baffled as you are at how Harvey’s behavior could continue for so long. We ask that the company let us out of our NDAs immediately – and do the same for all former Weinstein Company employees – so we may speak openly, and get to the origins of what happened here, and how.
We unequivocally support all the women who have come forward, many of whom we count among our own friends and colleagues. Thank you for speaking out.
When the New York Times and The New Yorker articles broke, we wept. We see you, we admire you, and we are in this fight alongside you.
And while we can only speak for the people represented in this statement, none of us ever knowingly acted as a so-called “honeypot”. That is disgusting and renders us all victims of Harvey’s disgraceful behavior.
Practically none of us have ever met the board. Aside from Bob Weinstein, few of us even knew their names before last week. If the board’s job was to keep Harvey in check, financially and otherwise, they failed.
As we begin the painful process of reflecting on our industry and the ugly systems we’ve wrought and let thrive, we are asking ourselves the question: how do we define abuse? Do we include verbal degradation, ruthless aggression and physical intimidation? This particular horror show centers on a sexual predator who abused his power in a very specific way. But if we’re being honest (and if not now, when?) we all know that threatening, hostile, inhumane work environments are rampant in our industry.
Non-disclosure agreements only perpetuate this culture of silence. The “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” mentality undermines those who might’ve spoken out. We treat these abusive people and places as rites of passage, instead of with the disgust they deserve.
Harvey Weinstein is far from the only sociopathic bully we’ve exalted over the years. Employees who work under our industry’s most notorious bosses are regularly asked to surrender their dignity in exchange for professional success.
So now that Harvey is gone, what next? If there is a future for this company, it must be one of radical transparency and accountability. And for that to happen, anyone who had specific knowledge of non-consensual, predatory behavior must go. That is the only way anyone will feel comfortable working with us. It is the only way any of us will feel comfortable working here.
To those speaking out, and to those fearlessly reporting: we are so grateful for your courage. Right now, we want to listen hard and keep listening, no matter how unsettling or overwhelming these stories are. But after that we must start to ask hard questions of our industry, so we may do right not only by Harvey’s many victims, but also by young film lovers who, like all of us, just want to work in movies.
– Select Members of The Weinstein Company Staff