Why Banning Confidentiality Clauses Would Hurt Some Victims

Katz, Marshall & Banks partner Debra Katz was quoted in an article for The Nation, “How to End the Silence Around Sexual-Harassment Settlements.” The piece examines how confidentiality clauses in sexual harassment settlements prevent public exposure, and facilitate a culture of silence. Legislators in a number of states have proposed barring non-disclosures and provisions in employment contracts and settlements.

Although such a step may bring to light more settlements, it won’t solve the fundamental problems behind sexual harassment, and in some cases, would hurt victims.

“I’ve had clients say to me, the last thing I want is for somebody to Google my name and see that I was subjected to sexual harassment by the CEO or by Congressman X,” says Ms. Katz.

In addition to wanting to move forward with their lives and careers, victims also may not receive the same compensation they would otherwise, as companies could pay less without the guarantee of confidentiality.

Finally, legally identifying one’s harasser publicly is less important in the vast majority of cases where the harasser is not a famous person or celebrity.

It’s clear that reform is needed, but the balance between doing what’s best for the victim, and what’s best for public interest is a difficult one to strike.

Read the full story here.