NY AG Launches Civil Rights Investigation of Weinstein Company

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 26, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Weinstein Company may have thought it handled the matter of serial sexual harassment and abuse by its founder by firing him. But the ouster of Harvey Weinstein from his eponymous film studio didn't stop the New York Attorney General's Office from opening a civil rights investigation into the company, to determine what, if any, antidiscrimination laws had been broken.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office issued a subpoena to the Weinstein Company seeking any records regarding harassment complaints and legal settlements the studio may have entered into regarding Weinstein's behavior. "No New Yorker should be forced to walk into a workplace ruled by sexual intimidation, harassment or fear," Schneiderman said in a statement this week. "If sexual harassment or discrimination is pervasive at a company, we want to know."

Company Man

According to The New York Times, the subpoena from the attorney general's Civil Rights Bureau is seeking a variety of documents: "personnel files; criteria for hiring, promoting and firing; formal and informal complaints of sexual harassment or other discrimination based on gender or age; and records showing how such complaints were handled," along with any documents and communications related to settlements the company may have negotiated with Weinstein's accusers.

The Times also reports multiple payouts regarding Weinstein's behavior: at least eight payments to women who accused him of sexual harassment, four of which the company was well aware, according to one of Weinstein's lawyers.

No More NDAs

Perhaps standing in the way of the New York AG's investigation are nondisclosure agreements that many, if not all, of Weinstein's employees were forced to sign. While a group of staff members at the Weinstein Company issued a statement seeking a release from their NDAs, one of Weinstein's former assistants in London went a step further.

"I want to publicly break my non-disclosure agreement," Zelda Perkins told the Financial Times. "Unless somebody does this there won't be a debate about how egregious these agreements are and the amount of duress that victims are put under. My entire world fell in because I thought the law was there to protect those who abided by it." Perkins claims she was repeatedly sexual harassed by the producer and split a £250,000 settlement with another accuser in exchange for their silence. If more NDAs are broken, even more charges could come to light.

Additionally, police in Los Angeles, New York City, and London are also investigating Weinstein over allegations of criminal sex abuse in those cities.

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