There has been an update on the lawsuit filed by Sandeep Rehal, a former Indian American personal assistant to Harvey Weinstein, who had sued the media mogul in January stating that she suffers from “severe emotional distress” because of “incessant sexual harassment” she endured working as his assistant from February 2013 to February 2015.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that the legal fight between Weinstein and Rehal is moving to state court after being dismissed on jurisdictional grounds by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman Feb. 26 dismissed the matter on jurisdictional grounds, after questioning in January whether his court was the proper venue for her complaint, according to the report, which adds that “Rehal is a California resident, while The Weinstein Company is a Delaware limited liability company that’s primarily based in New York — but the court noted that an LLC is considered a citizen of each state in which its members reside. For the New York federal court to handle the matter, Rehal would have needed to show that none of the defendants were residents of California.” She couldn’t, and the matter was dismissed, the report adds.
Rehal’s attorneys Laura Schnell and Genie Harrison Feb. 27 refiled the case in New York state court, which isn’t subject to the complete diversity requirement, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Her claims against the companies and individuals remain the same.
According to the lawsuit, Rehal had to manage Weinstein’s supply of injectable erectile dysfunction drugs, clean semen off his office couch and pick up used condoms. She maintained Weinstein’s list of contacts and had to use an asterisk to identify his sexual partners, the suit says.
Her degrading treatment constituted illegal sex discrimination, Rehal alleges in the suit. (Read earlier India-West story here.)
Detailing her experience, Rehal told the Deccan Chronicle that when she resigned in 2015, she thought leaving his office and company would mean a Harvey Weinstein free world, “for her.”
“Thinking about it now, my naivete shocks me. His name and affiliations was everywhere — when watching Netflix, flipping through fashion magazines and in conversations. It was like reliving everything daily — over and over,” she was quoted as saying. “A couple of months after resigning, I moved across country and married someone (on purpose) who had no idea who HW was. I buried what happened to me inside myself and tried to pretend I could live with the secret.”
She continued: “Then, in October 2017, on every channel there were the headlines I thought I would never see. Titles like, ‘Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades,’ I thought, ‘wow, I am going sleep great tonight.’ But that’s not what happened. I felt restless, scared and weak (like a coward). This went on for days, when out of nowhere I found my attorney, Genie Harrion’s information and called her. I wasn’t sure what my intentions were when I called her or even when we met and I told her my story. I think I wanted to deliver a message to HW — shame on him, not me and it was time for him to fear the consequences, not me. And after that there was no looking back. I want justice, I want to see him in court, look him in the eye and have the last word.”
Rehal said that though she had quit her job, she wasn’t able to fully recover from her traumatic experience.
Rehal said she was “ecstatic” when she got the job as Weinstein’s assistant.
“The first time he slowly ran his hand up and down my thigh in the car, I froze,” she recalled to the Deccan Chronicle. “He was dictating emails while doing it, but I couldn’t type. I was staring at the laptop screen and my fingers remained still on the keyboard. I can remember saying to myself in my head, “do something, say something, scream!” But I was paralyzed.”
Rehal said she was afraid to quit sooner as she believed at the time that he would destroy her career. She also felt that if she quit everyone would know the truth, and that she thought would also bring shame to her family.