What Are the Ethical Implications of Buying Silence?

Katz, Marshall & Banks partner Debra Katz was interviewed by National Public Radio for its show “On Point,” which talks to newsmakers and thought leaders to go behind the headlines and get to the heart of today’s most pressing issues. The episode, which premiered on April 9, is titled “Bill O’Reilly, Sexual Harassment and Buying Silence.”

After revelations that Fox News former top-rated Bill O’Reilly had paid millions to silence accusers of sexual harassment, the prominent network figure lost his position. Soon, headlines alleging serial sexual harassment and assault by other prominent celebrities began to dominate the news cycle. This, and other revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s serial predation, led to the popular #MeToo movement and an increased scrutiny of workplace misconduct, particularly among men in high positions of power.

Some of these men were able to conceal accusations leveled against and large payouts made by them through the use of non-disclosure agreements. In essence, these alleged harassers were silencing their accusers through payment and onerous settlement terms. The issue of “buying silence” reached its ultimate prominence when adult film star Stormy Daniels began to wage a legal battle to tell her story about her interactions with Donald Trump before he became president. While Ms. Daniels stands by the fact that her interactions with President Trump were consensual, she did sign a non-disclosure agreement and accepted payment in exchange for her silence.

To listen to the entire episode, which includes the interview with Ms. Katz, click here.