Non-Disclosure Agreements almost exclusively benefit the “bigger” party in transactions. Employers use them to silence employees. Companies use them to limit and restrict the spread of information by consumers. And while they can serve legitimate purposes, they can easily be abused. This is due partly to the unequal balance of power between the company requesting the NDA and the person who feels compelled to sign it.
One area where NDA’s have been caused particular harm to people is when employees are forced to agree to silence as a condition of employment, and the NDA is used to silence them exposing abuse. While NDA’s at large corporations may refer to trade secrets or intellectual property, they often also include terms regarding internal reviews, human resource matters and investigations. And the terms are rarely pointed out to the signor.
After sexual misconduct or workplace abuse occurs, the company suddenly points to the terms in an NDA agreement (that the employee may not even recall signing) and threatens the employee with legal action and other consequences if they dare to express themselves or expose the truth. This week, President Biden signed a new bipartisan law that makes such pre-incident NDA’s unenforceable. This workplace protection limits the ability for large companies to leverage their employees or threaten them over the truth.
If you experience workplace abuse or sexual misconduct, or have been exposed to sexual abuse or misconduct anywhere, you are sure to have all sorts of questions. Besides dealing with a terrible trauma, you have every right to speak with an attorney about your legal rights. No one can prevent that. Not an NDA. Not HR. You have the right to counsel and deserve answers and advice. Do not hesitate to contact our office when you feel ready to discuss your situation. We are here to support you and earn your trust in your difficult time of need.