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David Glasser, who was fired last week as president and COO of The Weinstein Co., is not going quietly. He has hired a Los Angeles law firm and is coming out swinging, threatening to prove that it was TWC’s board of directors that failed to stop Harvey Weinstein’s abusive workplace behavior.
Glasser has retained the law firm of Sauer & Wagner to file a lawsuit against TWC and its remaining board members — Bob Weinstein, Lance Maerov and Tarak Ben Ammar — alleging wrongful termination, retaliation, breach of contract and defamation. The suit will name the board members personally and will seek damages in excess of $85 million, according to a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter.
Sauer & Wagner partner Eve Wagner said in the statement: “My client’s sudden termination was nothing more than a desperate attempt to deflect attention away from the very people who were empowered to halt Harvey Weinstein’s abusive behavior — chairman Bob Weinstein and the two other members of the TWC board of directors.
“Throughout his tenure at TWC, Mr. Glasser worked tirelessly to protect the employees of the company from Mr. Weinstein’s frequent outbursts,” Wagner continued. “Numerous documents and emails clearly show that Mr. Glasser acted appropriately and responsibly whenever allegations of misconduct were brought to his attention.”
Late last Friday, TWC announced in a tersely worded statement that “it has unanimously voted to terminate David Glasser for cause,” but failed to offer further explanation. Wagner’s statement countered, “The board has yet to provide a single fact or detail explaining its decision to terminate Mr. Glasser on February 16. The simple truth is that the board had no grounds to justify his firing. Through this lawsuit, we intend to bring to light facts and evidence to demonstrate that the board acted precipitously and with malice.”
Since Weinstein was fired in October by the board following the extensive press reports detailing his alleged predatory and abusive behavior, Glasser — who first joined TWC in 2008 and was known as Weinstein’s top business executive — had worked to keep the beleaguered company afloat, attempting to ward off bankruptcy by helping to engineer a sale.
An investor group headed by Maria Contreras-Sweet and backed by billionaire Ron Burkle, among others, had offered a $500 million bid for the company, proposing to rename it, install a new female-majority board and have Glasser run the company from Los Angeles as its CEO.
But that deal, which appeared close to completion, hit a major hurdle when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a sweeping civil lawsuit against TWC and the Weinstein brothers on Feb. 11, alleging “a years-long gender-based hostile work environment, a pattern of quid pro quo sexual harassment, and routine misuse of corporate resources for unlawful ends.”
In a Feb. 12 press conference, Schneiderman blamed both the board and execs like Glasser for complicity in covering up Harvey Weinstein’s alleged offenses. “Management, including the COO and the human resources staff, never launched a single formal investigation into any of the complaints of discrimination, harassment or abuse,” Schneiderman said, without naming names. ”And there were many, many complaints.”
By firing Glasser several days later, the board may have hoped to salvage the Contreras-Sweet deal by removing the exec after the attorney general appeared to target him. The board was set to meet with Schneiderman’s staff Wednesday in New York to plead its case. The AG has said he is not necessarily opposed to a sale of TWC as long as it does not benefit those he alleges enabled Weinstein’s behavior.
But since Contreras-Sweet, who has no background in the film business, was said to be looking to Glasser to run the new company, his absence could also prove another obstacle to completing any deal. In addition, the staff of TWC is said to favor Glasser’s remaining with the company.
In her statement previewing the lawsuit, Wagner concluded, “We are confident that a complete airing of all the evidence will show that our client was scapegoated by the TWC board of directors.”
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