Disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein has been sued by his former Indian-American personal assistant who has alleged that she was subjected to sexual exploitation and a “sexually hostile” work environment while working for him.
Sandeep Rehal, who was Weinstein’s personal assistant for two years from 2013 to 2015, has sought trial by jury in an 11-page lawsuit.
For over two years Rehal was “forced to work in a pervasive and severe sexually hostile” work environment at Weinstein’s company and “defined by endless offensive, degrading, and sexually harassing actions, statements, and touching at the hands of her boss,” alleges a lawsuit filed in the Southern District Court of New York on January 25.
A day later, on Friday, the court issued summons to Weinstein and his company to respond to the charges within 21 days.
The 65-year-old film producer has been facing a number of other sexual allegations, many of whom have been widely reported in the US media including in the New York Times.
The lawsuit alleged that Rehal “had to pick up Harvey Weinstein’s used Caverject shots, which he tossed on the floor in his office, hotel rooms and his apartment”.
She also had to “pick up his used condom, and clean up rooms” and semen off his couch, before housekeeping personnel would do their work, the lawsuit charges.
“Rehal was required to be involved in and aware of the preparations for, and clean up after, Harvey Weinstein’s extremely prolific sexual encounters,” it alleged.
“Throughout her employment with Defendants Ms Rehal was required, as a condition of her employment, to work with Harvey Weinstein when he was naked. On an almost weekly basis, she was required to take dictation of emails from him while he was naked,” the lawsuit alleged.
Weinstein subjected Rehal to “unwelcome touching”, the lawsuit alleges.
Almost every time she accompanied Weinstein in his chauffeured Lexus SUV, he made her sit in the back with him and touched her thigh.
“After Ms Rehal started wearing pants instead of skirts, Harvey Weinstein would rub between her thighs. When Ms Rehal sat crosslegged in an attempt to prevent him from being able to touch her thigh, Harvey Weinstein would touch the back of her legs and butt,” the lawsuit alleged.
“Among Ms Rehal’s responsibilities was to maintain Harvey Weinstein’s list of contacts with a special asterisk that identified Harvey Weinstein’s ‘girls’, his many sexual partners,” the lawsuit said, adding that Weinstein also ordered Rehal to obtain and set up an apartment close to the office for him to “use with one of his sexual liaisons,” and purchase lingerie for the woman in that apartment as well as gifts for other women.
Weinstein, who is already facing similar investigations by police in New York and Los Angeles, has denied the latest allegations.
Weinstein “categorically denies these claims,” said his spokeswoman Holly Baird.
She said Weinstein’s lawyers “will respond in the appropriate legal forum with evidence proving they are untrue”.
The lawsuit also names his brother Bob Weinstein and their human resources head, Frank Gill, along with their company.
Rehal said she had no choice but to leave the job that she needed to support herself.
“As a result of the hostile work environment caused by sexual harassment, Ms Rehal has suffered, and continues to suffer from severe emotional distress, anxiety, depression, humiliation, fear, anguish and loss of self-esteem,” the complaint said.