Katz, Marshall & Banks partner Debra Katz was quoted in articles for the New York Daily News and Moneyish on non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and confidentiality clauses, and their role in the cycle of sexual harassment.
The Moneyish article, “What happens if you break an NDA,” answers important and commonly held questions about NDAs. These contracts, frequently signed upon employment, often prohibit an employee from publicly disparaging their employer. They can be quite prohibitive, especially in Hollywood and other industries that have a very public face, but they cannot prevent an employee from taking claims of illegal harassment or discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Oftentimes, employment is contingent on signing an NDA, and a settlement requires a confidentiality agreement. Therefore, many victims are backed into a corner where they must choose between doing what’s best for them, versus speaking out and sacrificing their professional wellbeing for greater accountability.
“My job is to protect my client,” Ms. Katz told the Daily News, “those agreements often have a benefit to my client.”
Lawmakers in New York and New Jersey are working on new legislation that would prohibit any NDA in connection with discrimination, nonpayment of benefits, and harassment. Their intentions are to pull sexual harassment out of the dark and prevent somebody like Harvey Weinstein, from paying for silence.
In the current system however, NDAs can be used to help victims move on. “It allows them to bridge to the next job,” explains Ms. Katz. “Most people don’t want it to be known that they’ve asserted claims… There are times when it is in the client’s interest.”