A former assistant to the disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein has revealed she struggled to get another job after quitting his company following allegations of sexual assault against him.
Zelda Perkins said the non-disclosure agreement she was made to sign prevented her from even talking to a doctor or legal representative about the case – unless they signed their own agreement first.
Perkins left her job at Miramax Films in the UK in the late 1990s, after a co-worker said Weinstein tried to rape her - a charge the former producer has denied.
She told Parliament’s women and equalities select committee that she and her colleague were dissuaded from launching a prosecution against Weinstein because they would be “utterly crushed” in court.
The former assistant, who worked for the industry boss when he was in the UK and Europe, said the agreement she signed upon reaching a financial settlement with the company was “morally lacking on every level”.
“There are clauses in there that preclude me and my colleague from speaking to our friends, colleagues, family members or any medical practitioner or legal representative about anything involving the case,” she said.
“We can speak to those people as a long as they sign their own NDA before entering into any conversation with us about anything.”
Perkins added that the restrictions made it very difficult for her colleague to speak to any trauma counsellor and that she had been unable to seek the level of help she wanted.
Both women left the UK soon after leaving Miramax - Perkins for five years and her colleague permanently. “The film industry is a very incestuous, small industry and at the time Harvey was the kingpin of it all,” she said.
“I had been very visibly a close colleague of his and was well-known in the industry ... At all of the (job) interviews that I went to, it was either suggested to me that I had been having an affair with Harvey and was it going to cause problems in the future, or I was asked - to my face - whether it would be ‘advantageous’ having me on board or not.
“That was possibly the most insulting thing that could have happened to me at that point. Obviously I wasn’t offered any of the jobs.”
Perkins said she was never given a copy of the NDA she signed and is calling for reforms to laws around such documents.
Mark Mansell, a partner at the firm who drew up the agreement on behalf of Miramax, also gave evidence to the committee, which is holding an inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.
“I do not believe an NDA should be used to cover up criminal activity,” he told MPs. He added that in hindsight, taking into account changes in the law over the last 20 years, the document “may well be drafted in a different way” today.
“On a personal level, if anyone in a case I dealt with felt that the process I was engaged with was more difficult and stressful than it should have been, then that would never have been my intention and that is something I would regret,” he added.
Committee chair Maria Miller said Weinstein had also been invited to give evidence, but had declined.