How Lawyers Protect the Harvey Weinstein in Your Workplace

Oct 2017 // Bloomberg

A first-year associate at a Manhattan law firm brought her complaint of sexual harassment to the managing partner. Her male boss, she said, had told her to take off her clothing. After months during which she continued to work for the same man, she left, signing a nondisclosure agreement in connection with a severance package.

The associate won’t give her name, fearing retribution for what she thinks would be an obvious breach of a legal contract. A provision in the nondisclosure agreement, or NDA, says that, in exchange for $40,000, she agrees to “not disclos[e] to any person or entity any information … about any one at the firm.” She also agreed to not sue or disparage the law firm. Her boss kept his job.

This is very often how the Harvey Weinstein at your company stays employed—and part of the reason his story rarely spreads beyond office whispers.

Dozens of women have come forward to add to the record of alleged sexual assault and misconduct by Harvey Weinstein in the days since the New York Times first reported on decades of silenced accusations. Some of those speaking publicly about the high-powered movie producer are breaking confidentiality contracts, risking lawsuits to do so. Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, according to the Times, and some of these featured NDAs.

In one of several such settlements reported by the Times, Weinstein made a $100,000 payment to actress Rose McGowan in 1997 to keep her quiet about conduct that she has since described as rape. McGowan, who was 23 years old at the time, appears to have gone two decades without explicitly identifying Weinstein. CNN reported that she retracted an interview with the New Yorker for its competing investigation into Weinstein’s conduct over fear of legal consequences.

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