New York's Attorney General has sued Harvey Weinstein's ex-company for failing to protect its staff from sexual harassment and abuse. Prosecutors claim Weinstein also threatened to kill employees and their families.
New York state prosecutor Eric Schneiderman is seeking financial compensation for victims of sexual harassment and abuse who had worked under Harvey Weinstein. The civil rights lawsuit targets the 65-year-old producer, his younger brother Robert, and the movie studio founded by the pair where many of the incidents allegedly took place.
Employees of Weinstein's studio were working "under a persistent barrage of gender-based obscenities, vulgar name-calling" and "threats of violence," Schneiderman said in the lawsuit filed on Sunday.
The studio was forced to fire Harvey Weinstein amid numerous reports of sexual misconduct last October.
According to Schneiderman, Weinstein also threatened his employees that he would "kill" them and their families, and boasted about his contacts among political figures and the US Secret Service that could "take care of problems."
The lawsuit claims that the company received multiple complaints of Weinstein's behavior and refused to act on them.
"The Weinstein Company repeatedly broke New York law by failing to protect its employees from pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and discrimination," court papers say.
'Bible' of sexual misconduct
According to the lawsuit, Harvey Weinstein's female assistants were provided with a manual, known as a "Bible" on managing his sex life, and were required to contact his potential sex partners via phone.
The company allegedly flew one employee from London to New York to teach his assistants "how to dress and smell more attractive" to the producer. Also, female CEOs of the company were required to meet Weinstein's sexual partners in order to follow up on promises of job offers.
The lawsuit lists various specific details on Weinstein's behavior, such as the requirement that his drivers keep condoms and erectile dysfunction injections in the car at all times.
Following the outbreak of the scandal, Weinstein reportedly started treatment for sex addiction. His representatives have denied all accusations of non-consensual sex.
Commenting on the Sunday lawsuit, Weinstein's lawyer Ben Brafman said it was "without merit."
While the movie producer "was not without fault, there certainly was no criminality," Brafman said.
Racing ahead of the sale
In recent days, US media reported that the troubled movie studio was to be sold off to a group of investors for about $500 million (€407 million).
Prosecutors said that they filed the lawsuit on Sunday for fear that the sale could leave the employees without adequate redress.
"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," Schneiderman said.
Separately from the New York case, the district attorney's office in Los Angeles recently reported that police had submitted three Weinstein sexual assault cases to them.
dj/jm (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)