Harvey Weinstein told his employees at The Weinstein Company, "I will kill you" and "I will kill your family," according to a civil rights lawsuit filed by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against the disgraced movie producer.
The suit was filed Sunday in New York County Supreme Court, alleging "egregious violations of New York's civil rights, human rights and business laws."
According to the lawsuit, available here, TWC knew about Weinstein's sexual harassment of women, but did not take "meaningful steps" to protect its own employees or try to stop his behavior. Schneiderman also listed Weinstein's brother Robert and TWC itself as defendants.
“As alleged in our complaint, The Weinstein Company repeatedly broke New York law by failing to protect its employees from pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation, and discrimination,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Any sale of The Weinstein Company must ensure that victims will be compensated, employees will be protected going forward, and that neither perpetrators nor enablers will be unjustly enriched. Every New Yorker has a right to a workplace free of sexual harassment, intimidation, and fear."
The Attorney General's office said the lawsuit was the result of an ongoing, four-month investigation, which included interviews with TWC employees, executives and survivors of Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct. The office also investigated TWC documents, including emails and records.
According to the lawsuit, Weinstein threatened TWC employees, telling them "I will kill you," "I will kill your family" and "You don't know what I can do." He would also tell them he had connections to powerful political figures and had contacts inside the Secret Service who could carry out his wishes.
Witnesses also told investigators that Weinstein directed TWC to hire a "group of female employees whose primary job it was to accompany HW to events and to facilitate HW’s sexual conquests." The women were called his "wing women," and one was flown from London to New York to teach his assistants there how to "dress and smell more attractive" to Weinstein.
Another group of employees, who were mostly women, were responsible for helping Weinstein's "regular sexual activity" by calling people on the "Friends of Harvey" list and contacting possible sexual partners. They were also responsible for organizing his calendar and making sure he had time for sexual activity.
The Attorney General also alleged that Weinstein had a third group of mostly women employees who were originally hired because of their experience in the Hollywood industry, but instead were required 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."
The lawsuit also includes a specific incident from 2015, in which Weinstein allegedly asked a TWC employee to go to a hotel room to set up his phone and other devices. When she got to the hotel room, she found her boss in the nude, wearing a bathrobe and asking for a massage. She said no, but Weinstein badgered her until she massaged him out of fear of losing her job. The incident was reported to TWC human resources, but the company did not respond.
Another employee told the investigators that between 2014 and 2015, Weinstein insisted she ride in his chauffeured vehicle with him, and he would "place his hand on her upper thigh and buttocks near her genitalia and rub her body without her consent." She believed, as others did, that not complying would cause adverse employment results.
The lawsuit also alleges that Robert Weinstein, the co-CEO and co-owner of TWC, was aware of his brother's activity, and received emails in 2014 and 2015 about Weinstein's behavior. However, Robert Weinstein did not act on this information at the time, the lawsuit alleges.
Schneiderman's office alleges that TWC's "culture of harassment and intimidation" was not publicly known before The New York Times' October 2017 report on Weinstein because he requested individuals sign Non-Disclosure Agreements. After the Times report, Schneiderman opened an investigation into Weinstein's sexual misconduct.
Schneiderman filed his lawsuit just as TWC attempts to sell itself to an investor group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet. According to The Hollywood Reporter, part of the deal includes a $50 million fund to handle claims against TWC. But Schneiderman's office believes that deal does not guarantee victims enough compensation.
The lawsuit calls on TWC to pay between $500 and $250,000 for each alleged violation of New York State laws.