Judge dismisses part of Judd’s lawsuit, allows rest to continue

| Jan 31, 2019 | Sexual Harassment |

The multitude of rape, sexual assault and harassment accusations against one-time Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein led to a movement that has extended well beyond show business. They’ve also led to new California laws aimed at curbing sexual harassment in the workplace and protecting victims.

One of the first and most vocal of Weinstein’s accusers was actress Ashley Judd. She filed a lawsuit in which she accuses him of trying to destroy her career after she rejected his advances more than 20 years ago.

For a second time, a federal judge has dismissed the sexual harassment part of the lawsuit because at the time the alleged behavior occurred, California sexual harassment law didn’t cover actions by someone who wasn’t a victim’s direct supervisor. The actress argued that one of the new state laws addresses actions by producers and directors. However, the judge ruled that the new law can’t be applied to the incident she describes years ago.

The judge did rule that the actress could still pursue other claims against Weinstein about harming her career in retaliation for her rebuff of his advances. He said that she had “adequately stated a claim for defamation, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, and violation of the [Unfair Competition Law].”

Judd’s accusations involve a meeting she had with the producer in the latter part of the 1990s in a Beverly Hills hotel — ostensibly to discuss future film roles. She says he met her in a bathrobe, asked for a massage and then wanted her to watch him shower.

Judd says that she got out of the situation by telling him that when she won an Oscar for appearing in one of his films, she might let him touch her. She says she learned many years later, in 2017, that Weinstein may have cost her a “major role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy” by telling director Peter Jackson that he should avoid her “at all costs” because she was “a nightmare to work with.” Jackson himself revealed that in an interview.

If you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment and/or retaliation, you need to know your rights and what legal options you have for seeking justice. As we noted, California lawmakers have taken action to address some of the continuing issues with sexual harassment in all industries in California. An experienced attorney can provide valuable information and guidance.

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