Zelda Perkins, a former assistant to Harvey Weinstein, has told a UK parliamentary committee she was “pressured” by Miramax into signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that was “morally lacking on every level.”
“You can’t have an agreement covering up criminality,” Perkins told MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee. Perkins is among a handful of former Miramax employees to previously speak out against Harvey Weinstein. Today she again claimed she left her job after a colleague accused Weinstein of trying to rape her. Weinstein has denied all allegations of “non-consensual sexual contact.”
Perkins said she and her colleague were advised at the time that they would be “utterly crushed” if they tried to pursue a case against Weinstein, so they decided to launch a financial claim against Miramax instead. They ultimately signed an agreement negotiated with a Miramax lawyer that saw both women receive $250,000 (£175,000), as well as signing an NDA banning Perkins from ever speaking about the alleged incident.
She said she had tried to make sure the NDA contained restrictions on Weinstein’s future conduct, but that they were never adhered to. “Essentially we were defrauded,” she told the committee, which is carrying out an inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.
Perkins, who worked for Weinstein’s Miramax Films in the UK in the 1990s, said her former colleague did not talk about the alleged assault to counsellors because she was “so afraid” of breaking the agreement. According to Perkins, the women were told they could only talk to therapists and legal reps if those people also signed NDAs.
Weinstein, Miramax and Miramax owner Disney were invited to give evidence to the committee, but declined.
Perkins is on a noble mission to change the way NDAs are structured within the law. “The problem is they are used abusively and within the law,” she said. “There isn’t enough regulation and there isn’t a framework to protect the victims of the situation.”
Perkins said she was never given a copy of the NDA she signed and that she was told by her lawyers they had never seen one like it. “I was told clearly it was a very broad agreement and, basically, I just couldn’t ever say anything about anything to anybody, and just the safest thing was to erase the entire last four years of my life pretty much from my memory.” Perkins went on to say that her career had all but ended after her experience at the company and that she and her former colleague eventually left the country.
TWC filed for bankruptcy earlier this month and freed all its employees from NDAs they may have signed.