Retaliation

Ashley Judd lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein could have major consequences for victims of harassment

Ashley Judd at the 90th Academy Awards (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

In a lawsuit with potentially groundbreaking implications for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, actress Ashley Judd has sued disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein for smearing her name within the industry after she spurned his sexual advances. Judd, who has accused Weinstein of asking her to meet him at his hotel to discuss possible movie roles only to emerge in a bathrobe and ask her to submit to a massage and watch him shower, is suing the producer under California’s Unfair Competition Law, which prohibits “unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business acts and practices.” Historically, unfair competition has not been applied to cases of sexual harassment or retaliation.

As evidence, Judd has pointed to the testimony of director Peter Jackson, who in December acknowledged that he had removed her from consideration for a prominent role in his blockbuster trilogy Lord of the Rings “as a direct result” of “false information” he received from Weinstein, who Jackson said told him that Judd was a “nightmare” to work with and should be avoided “at all costs.” Jackson also alleged that Weinstein similarly told him not to cast Mira Sorvino, who Weinstein also allegedly harassed and tried to massage during a meeting in a hotel room at film festival in 1995.

In the lawsuit against Weinstein, Judd also cited a number of other actresses who said they have faced professional retaliation from Weinstein after rebuffing his advances. In a sign of the impact that the #MeToo movement has had in California, evidence such as the accounts cited by Judd in her suit have become known in California courts as “me too” evidence.

If Judd’s suit is successful, it could pave the way for others to sue employers and others who directly harmed the economic opportunities of their employees in retaliation for them having rejected sexual advances.

“No person — in whatever job, in whatever industry — should have to forfeit professional aspirations and the right to earn a living to the abusive whims of the powerful,” the complaint read.

Below, watch video of Judd discussing the lawsuit on Good Morning America.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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