Relativity Fabricated Memo Claiming Sexual Harassment Against Former Co-President Adam Fields, Judge Awards $8.4M


UPDATED with Relativity/Kavanaugh response: Claims of sexual harassment from seven women at Relativity against former Relativity Co-President Adam Fields was found to have been the result of a fraudulent memorandum devised, according to the arbitrator Judge Terry Friedman, by Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh himself. As a result, the arbitrator awarded Fields $8.44M.

The validity of that memo which claimed that more than a handful of women complained to HR to have been subjected to sexual harassment by Fields was also denied by the Managing Director of the company and overseer of HR Carol Genis, who denied ever seeing or authoring the memo. In her testimony during a civil suit brought by Fields against Kavanaugh and Relativity, she stated that she never heard of any harassment claims and knew nothing of the memorandum.

After a forensic audit of the computer was conducted, it was found that the memo had been generated from someone who signed in as “kav, kav,” according to records submitted by Fields as a creditor in the Bankruptcy Court where the former Relativity co-president is seeking $8.44M.

Ryan Kavanaugh
Ryan Kavanaugh, Chief Executive Officer of Relativity Studios attends the Los Angeles Premiere of “Black or White” held at Regal Cinemas on Tuesday, Jan 20, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP) Associated Press

The documents arose from a breach of contract civil complaint filed by Fields against Relativity and Kavanaugh after Fields was fired from the film and television company two years ago. In the recent documents filed in the Bankruptcy Court on May 29, it was shown that the arbitrator in the civil suit awarded Fields $8.44M after ruling that the memo was fabricated. Attached here is the filing and the exhibits

The records state that two weeks before trial, Relativity discovered another 2,000 documents, one of which was Fields’ personnel file (that had not previously been produced) and this HR memo supposedly created and written by Genis.

“That document was a several page memorandum … which purported to document a pattern of egregious misconduct by Mr. Fields — none of which, strangely, was mentioned in his termination letter … In an attempt to explain why the memorandum had not been produced earlier, Relativity submitted false declarations from Mr. Kavanaugh and Mr. (Matt) Comeione (Relativity IT director). Mr. Kavanaugh claimed in his declaration that he was the one to ferret out the location of the memorandum. In particular, he declared under oath that he suspected the document had not been produced because it was in a private folder belong (sic) to Ms. Genis’s who was no longer employed at Relativity and after being given special access to Ms. Genis’s supposed private folders, he fortuitously located the memo and provided it to counsel.” Genis was also Kavanaugh’s former attorney.

Fields says in bankruptcy creditor documents that at the first sight of the memo, he knew it was a fake. Genis was then brought into an evidentiary hearing to testify and was asked about the memo which claims: that three unnamed female employees said that Fields had inappropriately propositioned them or touched them, that one of those unnamed female employee said Fields suggested that he could further her career (she said she thought it meant in exchange for sex) and two other unnamed female employees then led the internal investigation to two more females (also unnamed). Seven in all.

The filing on May 29 states: “The allegations were all fabrications, seemingly ripped from the headlines of the then-recent Harvey Weinstein scandal,” referring to the now disgraced TWC chairman who has been arrested for sexual assault/rape.

When Genis was brought to testify about the memorandum, Relativity tried to prevent her from testifying. But she was ultimately allowed to and stated that she did not write or edit any portion of the document and had never seen the document before. She stated also that she did not have a private folder on Relativity’s server.

Asked if various employees had raised complaints about Mr. Fields’ behavior, Genis said, “I was not aware of any of that with respect to Mr. Fields, but there were — there were anecdotal issues being raised.” Asked if there were any complaints about Fields from outside the company, Genis said she wasn’t aware of anything.

Asked if there were three confirmed incidents of harassment of female employees by Fields, she said, “absolutely not … there were no female employees that I was aware of …” Asked about whether a female employee talked about his ability to increase her career path which she understood was in exchange for sex, Genis said, “I — no, I’m sorry, I never heard that.”

Asked if she then spoke to four additional female employees about sexual harassment, Genis said, “No.” Asked if someone, on behalf of Relativity, then contacted CAA and WME to say they wouldn’t work with Fields again, once again, she said, “no” and said she had no such files about sexual harassment against Fields.

“I have to say, I take sexual harassment extremely seriously. And the fact that all of this is attributed to me, it’s very offensive to me. Honestly, it’s very offensive to me … that this is stated here when it didn’t occur.” In fact, she said that she was out sick the days the memo was supposedly written by her.

In conclusion, the Arbitrator Judge Friedman wrote, “The evidence was overwhelming and undeniable that Relativity falsified the Genis Memorandum. First, the metadata refuted all of Relativity’s theories linking the Memorandum to Genis and establishes that it was last modified on Oct. 15, 2017 by ‘kav kav’, which must be Kavanaugh. In fact, the metadata revealed that the ‘Hot Issues’ folder where Kavanaugh said he found the Memorandum contained other documents that suspiciously indicated someone was modifying documents in the folder after Genis left Relativity.”

“Second, Genis credibility testified that she did not write or edit the Memorandum or even see it before she left Relativity. Her critique of the Memorandum’s style and format rang true for a lawyer with prior large law firm experience. The most peculiar aspect of the Memorandum was its repeated reference to Kavanaugh as ‘Co-CEO’ Why would Genis add that reference in a memo to her own file? It would be silly for her to do so … Finally, had Genis been aware of sexual harassment allegations against Fields, she surely would have included that in Fields’ termination letter.”

“… By falsifying the Memorandum to manufacture evidence that it had cause to terminate Fields, Relativity admitted that it otherwise lacked cause. The most appropriate sanction for such outrageous conduct is an issue sanction confirming what the falsification revealed, namely that Relativity terminated Fields without cause.”

Fields is seeking what the Arbitrator ruled in his favor: $1.16M for unpaid portion of consulting services, $171K for base salary, $900K for his discretionary bonus; $287K for unpaid car allowance and salary for his assistant; $5.5M for Relativity’s re-purchase of Fields’ vested profits interests, all adding up to $8.44M.

Since publishing this story, a spokesperson for Kavanaugh and Relativity issued a statement that said it disputed the findings of the Arbitrator Judge Terry Friedman: “Had Fields won anything but a single count of breach of contract against Relativity, where an appeal would have been more costly than anything Fields may yet be paid, Relativity would have appealed.”

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