Stars Accuse Harvey Weinstein of Sexual Harassment

Hollywood Stars Accuse Harvey Weinstein of Sexual Harassment

How many women have come forward to accuse Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault? As of October 27, 2017, that number was 80. Will it continue to rise?

Actresses, aspiring models, and filmmakers claim that over a period of many years, Weinstein used his powerful position in the entertainment industry to assault, harass, and abuse young women. Celebrities like Angie Everhart, Ashley Judd, and Daryl Hannah claim to have experienced Weinstein’s inappropriate behavior. Accusations by the women include:

  • Offering massages in his bedroom
  • Holding “business meetings” in hotel rooms in his bathrobe
  • Showering during these meetings
  • Greeting women arriving for “meetings” while nude in the bathtub
  • Exposing himself during these meetings
  • Masturbating in front of women
  • Rape
  • Forcible kissing

These victims, some of whom were starring in Weinstein’s films at the time, felt their roles would be put in jeopardy if they did not silently accept the harassment. Others claim that Weinstein outright threatened them with future opportunities. Several actresses lived in fear that their careers would end. Others claim that Weinstein did, in fact, derail their success because of their refusals to succumb to his sexual demands.

While no industry is immune to sexual harassment, recent reports can lead us to conclude that the entertainment field is rampant with this behavior. Since the allegations against Weinstein emerged, numerous celebrities, men, and women have finally begun sharing their stories about harassment and assault by various movie directors, actors, and producers.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) prohibits employment discrimination based on sex. Courts long ago determined that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and has no place at work.

Sexual harassment includes behaviors such as making lewd comments and sexual propositions, unwanted touching, telling sexual jokes, and sexual innuendo. There are basically two types of sexual harassment that are illegal under Title VII.

Hostile Work Environment – Sexual harassment is unlawful when it creates a hostile work environment. The offensive conduct must be severe or pervasive. The conduct must result in conditions that make the workplace feel hostile, uncomfortable or unsafe to the “reasonable” person. This type of sexual harassment can involve one or more perpetrators who can be colleagues, supervisors or managers. Examples of what may create a hostile environment are:

  • Making frequent comments about body parts
  • Repeatedly making requests for dates, not taking “no” for an answer
  • Sending lewd emails or texts
  • Exposing someone to inappropriate photos or videos
  • Exposing yourself
  • Hugging someone or massaging them against their will

Quid Pro Quo Harassment – This type of sexual harassment is illegal when a person in a position of power conditions an aspect of a subordinate’s employment on the fulfillment of a sexual favor. In other words, someone with control over your employment threatens something negative if you don’t comply with his or her demands. Alternatively, someone may promise something positive if you do. Quid pro quo harassment forms the basis for many of the allegations against Weinstein.

Issues that may Arise in Sexual Harassment Claims Against Harvey Weinstein

The issues that will come up in any case against Weinstein that proceeds to litigation are going to be like those in all sexual harassment lawsuits. Was there inappropriate behavior? Was the person in a position of authority?

The New York Times and the Huffington Post reported that the widespread allegations against Weinstein suggest a 30-year history of sexual harassment. Reports also claim that Weinstein and the companies he helmed engaged in tremendous efforts to cover-up his unlawful behavior, including forcing women to sign non-disclosure agreements. Cari Ross, a veteran Hollywood publicist, wrote in an article for Variety, “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t hear stories about Harvey and his behavior as a sexual predator.” Perhaps a bigger issue is not whether Weinstein’s behavior was illegal, but why no one spoke up.

That Weinstein has had so much authority, and power in Hollywood may be part of that reason. His films for Miramax and the Weinstein Co. have earned more than 300 Oscar award nominations and 75 academy awards according to Newsweek. They have grossed over 1 billion dollars worldwide. There is little doubt that working in a Harvey Weinstein production was a good career move. Consider what some women have said about Weinstein’s threats to them which were accompanied by sexual propositions:

  • USA Today reported that actress Heather Graham wrote in Variety that Weinstein “insinuated that she would need to have sex with him in order to get a role in one of his upcoming films. She was never hired for one of his films.”
  • USA Today reported that aspiring actress Dawn Dunning told the Times that she was brought to Weinstein’s hotel room where he presented her with contracts to appear in three of his films. He allegedly conditioned them on having three-way sex with him. When she refused, Dunning claims Weinstein said “You’ll never make it in this business. This is how the business works.” Dunning decided she would not pursue an acting career.
  • USA Today also reported that Weinstein allegedly told former actress and screenwriter Louisette Geiss that he would greenlight her script and give her a three-picture deal. “but she had to watch him masturbate first.”

The list goes on and on with many actresses claiming that they never received roles in Weinstein’s movies or television productions as a direct result of their refusal to accommodate his sexual demands. An aspiring actress who has asked to remain anonymous has filed a lawsuit against him individually and the Weinstein Company. She claims that when Weinstein invited her to discuss a role in his upcoming project, he raped her.

Weinstein has not denied acting inappropriately. His spokesperson told Reuters, however, “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”

Contact Us

You don’t have to be Gwyneth Paltrow to be the victim of sexual harassment. It happens every day in all types of work. You have legal rights to work in a place free from discrimination and harassment. There is help if it is happening to you.

At Leeds Brown Law, our sexual harassment attorneys represent employees in the entertainment industry when they need to enforce their legal rights. If you are an actor, actress, writer, dancer, director or producer, contact our office for a free review of your sexual harassment claim. We are here 24/7 to take your call so don’t wait. Call Leeds Brown today at 1-800-585-4658.