Harvey Weinstein will have to face a sexual harassment claim by Ashley Judd even though the actress was never actually employed by the mogul of the misleading film. On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the California Civil Code § 51.9 included their relationship enough to provide Judd with the ability to prosecute him for sexual harassment.
Judd alleges in her complaint that she became a victim of Weinstein when the film mogul made claims about her in a hotel room about 20 years ago. Judd says she only escaped after settling for an agreement where she would let him touch her if she won an Academy Award. Judd later says she was in serious discussions for a big role in Peter Jackson̵7;s Lord of the Rings, but that opportunity was trained after Weinstein or someone at Miramax told the director she was a “nightmare.” to work with.
In September 2018, a federal judge allowed Judd to pursue a defamation claim, but not a sexual harassment claim because according to the judge’s interpretation of §51.9, the statute did not apply to relationships centered around prospective employment.
The case then went to the Ninth Circuit, which took a hard look at California’s attempt to codify women’s right to work without unwanted sexual advances. Did that law encompass the so-called “casting couch,” which means soliciting sexual favors for roles in movies and TV shows? And how does California’s recent #MeToo amendment, which added “director or producer” to the types of occupations explicitly mentioned in the statute as covered, make sense? Did the increase address a lack of law, as Weinstein’s lawyers argued, or simply clarify the scope of the law, as Judd submitted?
“In summary, we conclude that, as alleged, section 51.9 clearly concludes Judd and Weinstein’s relationship, which was“ substantially similar ”to the business, service or professional relationship.[s]“Listed in the statute,” writes Ninth Circuit Judge Mary Murguia. “As in the enumerated relations, their relationship consisted of an imbalance of inherent power where Weinstein was in a unique place to exert force or leverage on Judd by virtue of his professional position and influence as a producer of We have no difficulty in concluding that the California Supreme Court reaches the same conclusion, and we avoid the need to certify the matter.Therefore, the district court erred in dismissing it. Judd’s request for sexual harassment under article 51.9. “
Read the full opinion here.
“This is an important victory not only for Ms. Judd but for all victims of sexual harassment in professional relationships,” said Ted Boutrous, Gibson Dunn’s partner who represents Judd. “The court correctly considers that California law prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation by filmmakers and others in strong positions, even outside the context of employment, and we expect We look forward to pursuing this claim against Mr Weinstein in the process. “
Weinstein’s lawyer Phyllis Kupferstein replied, “We are glad that Mrs Judd and Mr Weinstein will have their day in court, where we will wait for the truth to come out. The most minimal investigation of the events will shows that Mr. Weinstein was neither down to Mrs. Judd, nor hindered or hindered by her career, and certainly never retaliated against her and indeed, had nothing to retaliate against her. and approved its casting for two of his films. “
This article originally appeared in THR.com.