Harvey Weinstein will have to face a sexual harassment lawsuit from Ashley Judd, even if the actress was never employed as a mogul in a drowning film. On Wednesday, the Ninth District Court of Appeals ruled that section 51.9 of the California Civil Code covers their relationship sufficiently to allow Judd to sue for sexual harassment.
In her complaint, Judd alleges she became a victim of Weinstein when a film tycoon made demands on her in a hotel room about 20 years ago. Judd says she escaped only after she acted on an agreement where she would let him touch her if she won an academy award. Judd later says she had a serious discussion about Peter Jackson’s big role in The Lord of the Rings, but the opportunity was torpedoed after Weinstein or someone told the Miramax director it was a “nightmare.”;
2018 September. A federal judge allowed Judd to bring an action for defamation, but not for sexual harassment, because, according to the judge’s interpretation of Article 59, the statute did not apply to relationships based on future employment.
The case then fell into Ninth County, which closely reviewed California’s attempt to codify women’s right to work without unwanted sexual progress. Did that law include the so-called “couch casting” in Hollywood, meaning a request for sexual pleasure for roles in movies and TV shows? And how do you understand California’s latest #MeToo amendment, which includes “director or producer” in the types of professions that the statute explicitly states to include? Was the addition addressed to a lack of law, as Weinstein’s attorneys argued, or did it only explain the scope of the law, as Judd argued?
In conclusion, we conclude that Section 51.9 explicitly covers the relationship between Judd and Weinstein, which was “substantially similar” to “a business, office, or professional relationship.”[s]”listed in the statute,” writes Ninth District Court Judge Mary Murguia. “As in the listed relationship, their relationship consists of a characteristic imbalance of power in which Weinstein had a unique place to commit coercion or influence the defendant because of his professional position and influence. The best Hollywood producer. The district court therefore erred in dismissing Judd’s action for sexual harassment under section 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, a Gibson Dunn partner representing Judd. “The court rightly takes the view that California law prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation from film producers and others in powerful positions, even in the context of employment, and we hope that this lawsuit against Mr. Weinstein will be tried in court. “
Weinstein’s attorney, Phyllis Kupferstein, replied, “We are delighted that both Ms. Judd and Mr. Weinstein will have his day in court where, hopefully, the truth will come out. The slightest investigation into the events will show that Mr Weinstein neither slandered Mrs Judd, hindered or interfered with her career and, of course, never responded to her and did not really have anything to take revenge for. Instead, p. Weinstein supported her work and confirmed her acting for two of his films. “
This article originally appeared on THR.com.