In light of recent sexual harassment claims against several high-profile entertainers and politicians, the use of confidentiality and non-disclosure (NDA) agreements in harassment cases is under more scrutiny than ever. By preventing victims from speaking out, confidentiality agreements protect abusers who remain free to assault more victims. California Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino) is one of several politicians calling for the end of non-disclosure agreements in tandem with settlements for sexual assault and harassment.
How Confidentiality Agreements Work
In business, NDA and other types of confidentiality agreements serve a valuable purpose. They prevent employees from sharing confidential, proprietary information that may jeopardize trade secrets and give competitors an unfair advantage. Confidentiality agreements typically include time restrictions on how soon an employee can begin working for a customer or competitor. They also protect any product or information workers produce during their employment.
Assault and NDA
Employers accused of emotional, physical, or sexual harassment who agree to financial settlements with their accusers, often require victims to sign an NDA. Confidentiality agreements prevent details of bad behavior from becoming public information. As such, they serve an important role in a company’s reputation management plan.
Victims accept money in exchange for their silence often because they believe this may be their only hope of getting justice. Sadly, future victims often pay the price for this silence. Victims who decline settlements do have the right to take their case to trial. Yet when abusers are in the power position- whether it is in the office or the industry- victims may be too frightened to go to court. They worry that speaking out will jeopardize their career.
Legal Limits on Confidentiality Agreements
Senator Leyva (D-Chino) plans to introduce legislation next year that would ban secret settlements in cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sex discrimination. She says the bill will hold sexual predators accountable for their actions, preventing them from victimizing others. Legislation was recently introduced in New York that would void any employment contracts preventing workers from publicly sharing discrimination and harassment allegations.
Time will tell if these laws come to pass and if confidentiality agreements will lose their power to silence victims of workplace abuse. Before signing any type of employment contract, it is always best to have it reviewed by a skilled employment lawyer.
Red Bank Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Advise Clients on the Terms of Their Employment Contract
Victims of workplace discrimination or harassment often hesitate to speak out because they fear retaliation, or they feel bound to silence by an NDA. The Red Bank employment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. want you to know that you are protected from discrimination and harassment in the workplace. We are also available to review any employment contracts before you sign on the dotted line.