New York’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the Weinstein Company accusing the studio of creating a “toxic environment” that allowed movie producer Harvey Weinstein to sexually abuse and harass women at his company.
The suit, filed Sunday in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, halted the company’s sale, which was expected to be finalized that day, according to the New York Times. If the sale doesn’t go through, the company, which has struggled since accusations against Weinstein began piling up in October, will be headed toward bankruptcy, according to the Times.
The lawsuit alleges that the Weinstein Company and the two Weinstein brothers who founded it violated state and city laws related to discrimination, harassment, abuse, and coercion, according to the Times.
The investor group that planned to buy the company said it would set aside $20 million to $30 million for a settlement fund for Weinstein’s victims, according to Variety. Weinstein’s brother, Bob Weinstein, would leave the studio, and the group had said it planned to put more women in leadership positions. But the new owners would make David Glasser, Harvey Weinstein’s right-hand man, the new CEO.
The timing of the lawsuit was intentional, as the attorney general’s office said its review of the deal found that it did not include a victims compensation fund, contrary to what the investor group said, according to the Times. The lawsuit mentioned that the sale of the company could also financially benefit Weinstein or his enablers. The lawsuit also charges that the deal would mean female employees would report to the same managers who already failed to protect them from Weinstein.
According to the Times, the suit accused the company’s management and board of directors of being “repeatedly presented with credible evidence of [Weinstein’s] sexual harassment” and of his use of his resources and employees to facilitate his sexual misconduct. One woman’s complaint to human resources was forwarded to Weinstein, according to the lawsuit, and two female employees said they were directed to obtain erectile dysfunction medication for him. One said she received a bonus for procuring it and that Weinstein sometimes told her to administer the injections.
Weinstein has denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex, and his company has denied the board knew of his actions.
Other lawsuits have been filed against the company, including one by actor and model Dominique Huett accusing the company of negligence. A class-action lawsuit filed in December accused men on the company’s board of enabling the “Weinstein Sexual Enterprise.”