Gregg Jarrett: Weinstein's illegal contract should force his company to close

The Weinstein Company should immediately shut-down its operations and permanently close its doors.

While doing so, it should pool its assets into a compensation fund for the many women who claim they were victimized by Harvey Weinstein and his seemingly insatiable sexual appetite.

So far, 32 women have come forward to say they were sexually harassed and assaulted. Three of them insist he raped them. The list will likely grow.

The Weinstein Company surely knew it had a sexual predator at the helm, but did little to stop him.  Instead, it willingly fostered and sustained an environment that permitted him to continue abusing women.

What is the evidence of the company’s complicity?

Weinstein’s Illegal Contract      

As first reported by TMZ, The Weinstein Company approved a written contract which deliberately enabled Weinstein to sexually harass women and allowed him to cover-up the abusive conduct by paying off his victims. If true, the contract itself constitutes an illegal document.   

Under American common law and statutes in nearly every state, a contract is illegal and unenforceable if the purpose of the agreement is to advance an illegal end. If the reporting is accurate, Weinstein’s contract appears to encourage or condone his suspected illegal behavior.

The agreement allegedly states that if he is caught abusing women in violation of the company’s Code of Conduct on sexual harassment, he must merely reimburse the company for any damages it incurs and pay a fine. He can then proceed to sexually harass even more women. 

The contract language calls the payments to the company a “cure” for his misconduct. It is not. The only cure (or remedy) for illegal behavior of a company employee is termination. A person may not contract for permission to sexually harass, any more than a person can contract for murder.

Viewed another way, the company seems to have aided and abetted Weinstein. They handed him a piece of paper which granted him permission to victimize women with impunity.  For a mega-millionaire like Weinstein, tossing a few dollars into the company coffers was of little consequence.  Yet it awarded him the ability to continue his unconscionable behavior.

Did the company breach the contract when it fired Weinstein instead of forcing him to pay money? No. Illegal contracts are null and void. They cannot be enforced. So, Weinstein would have no ability in a court of law or arbitration to contest his termination under the illegal agreement.       

Sexual Harassment, Assault And Rape

Sexual harassment associated with employment or any work-related matter is a form of sexual discrimination which is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It involves unwelcome sexual advances and requests or pressure for sexual favors in a way that affects a person’s employment or prospects for a job. Victims may sue for monetary damages.

But Weinstein has far more serious problems than a plethora of lawsuits.

Sexual assaults and rapes are crimes of violence. An assault occurs when a person is sexually touched without consent or forced to engage in a sex act against their will. Rape involves penetration. Weinstein has been accused of both.

Police in both New York and London are now investigating separate complaints involving the disgraced film producer, and there is some indication that Los Angeles law enforcement may open its own probe. In most cases of rape, there is no statute of limitations.  The same is true for first degree sexual assault, although it depends on the jurisdiction.

It seems that the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., already had the goods on Weinstein two years ago when an Italian model helped police tape-record Weinstein admitting he groped her in his office. Yet there was no prosecution, notwithstanding the incriminating evidence. Maybe it was just a coincidence that Weinstein’s lawyer donated thousands of dollars in campaign cash to the D-A after the case was dropped. Vance insists the generous contributions played no role.             

The Company Should Cease Operations

Whether Weinstein ever ends up behind bars is a reality movie yet to be written. But the film company he and his brother created appears to have been entirely complicit in enabling him to abuse and terrorize dozens of women over many years.

The Weinstein Company is privately held, with brothers Harvey and Bob owning 42 percent of the shares. It is not required to disclose its financial worth, but you can be assured it amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Harvey Weinstein has managed to sully its reputation beyond repair. Company executives and board members acted as accessories before and after the fact. With its image in ruins, the company should do the right thing.

First, it should publicly and sincerely apologize for its disgraceful role. Second, it should establish a compensation fund to indemnify fairly the many victims. Third, it should donate even more money to various organizations dedicated to helping abused women. 

And then The Weinstein Company should close its doors… and just go away forever.