New Jersey has taken an important step toward ensuring the rights of sexual harassment or sexual assault victims in the workplace. Bill S-121 was first introduced by Senators Loretta Weinberg and Nia Gill and dissolves all NDAs from validity in employment contracts and settlement agreements. Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill into effect on March 18, 2019. NDAs are no longer applicable or enforceable in all harassment cases, including sexual harassment or assault, discrimination, and retaliation. If an employee opts to take advantage of the new law and expose the employer they are accusing, the employer is free to discuss the case as they approach it.
Up until now, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) were standard fare for an employer settling a sexual harassment or discrimination accusation. An employee is typically forced to sign an NDA that prohibits them from speaking out against the defending company, making accusations, or divulging information about the case. These types of NDAs are typically required when the employer and employee settle out of court. If the accuser breaks the NDA and speaks out about the abuse, the employer can take legal action against the accuser.
The End of the NDA
It is understandable that a company may want to avoid negative press. However, not informing the public is a severe disservice to those who may be potentially victimized. It also leaves room for the company to foster an environment for harassment and discrimination in the future. Job applicants may unwittingly seek employment by an employer they would not otherwise consider.
While this injustice has been commonly practiced for decades, it has recently been brought to light by many high-profile cases. Actors, politicians, and media moguls have all been in the news for sexual harassment and assault. According to the settlements that were made in these high-profiles cases, victims were forced to sign an NDA to keep them quiet and protect the reputation of well-known people. Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump are all examples of public figures who have settled sexual harassment and assault cases with similar NDAs. The possibility that someone who was sexually harassed could then in turn be sued by the perpetrator for warning others about the dangers they may face seems unconscionable.
Victims Gain Back Power
Proponents of the bill are thrilled that power is being put back into the hands of victims. Victims of sexual crimes, in the work place and out, are often forced into legal bondage. Rather than defending the rights and championing a worthy cause, power is taken from the victims in exchange for money. The reputation and good name of a perpetrator is the primary concern in sexual harassment and assault cases. This bill is one crucial step toward ending a harmful and unethical standard.
Red Bank Sexual Harassment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Represent Victims Forced into Nondisclosure Agreements
If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is in your best interest to speak to the Red Bank sexual harassment lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. We will stand by your side and help you obtain the justice you deserve. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 732-842-6500 or contact us online. Located in Red Bank and Marlton, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas, including Cherry Hill and Middletown.