Lawmakers Consider Banning NDAs In Sexual Harassment Suits
If you’ve ever been sexually harassed at work, then you know that holding an employer accountable for the conduct is not the simplest process in the world. But the odds aren’t against you in these lawsuits because the burden of proof is substantially lower than a criminal case. You only need to prove your case is more likely than not and meets the statutory requirements for filing. Nonetheless, employers routinely require employees to sign agreements that force them into arbitration (as opposed to getting their case before a judge and jury) or sign NDAs that force them to remain silent about the harassment they encountered.
A new law with bipartisan support could finally put an end to the practice of requiring employees to sign NDAs as part of a settlement agreement or condition for employment.
Who do NDAs protect?
NDAs protect the company from potential harassment lawsuits and make it more difficult for lawyers to establish a history of harassment in the workplace. They further protect individuals who are repeat violators from acknowledging repeat offenses. The rules put the burden on the plaintiffs to ensure that they are not discussing the harassment they’ve sustained and the clauses hold them liable for violating the terms of the contracts they’ve signed.
Additionally, it was a long-established practice of employers to force employees to sign arbitration agreements that would force any legal action they took before an arbitrator of their choosing. Arbitrators may favor employers in these actions and it deprives the employee of their right to have a U.S. judge hear their case. Anything that goes before a judge is public record.
So, on the one hand, you have an arbitration agreement that prevents the matter from going before the courts. And on the other hand, you have an NDA which prevents the employee from speaking publicly about the harassment.
At the head of the efforts are two former Fox News correspondents who accuse Roger Ailes of sexual harassment and sexual assault. One correspondent cannot file a lawsuit because of an arbitration agreement while the other cannot publicly speak about a sexual assault she alleges occurred while on the job.
This leaves both women without the right to warn other employees about a potentially predatory employee.
What happens next?
Bipartisan support for the measure means that hopefully, arbitration agreements and NDAs will not be enforceable any longer. It means that victims of workplace sexual harassment and assault will be allowed to speak out without fear of the company retaliating against them. It means that victims of sexual harassment will have their day in court as opposed to a hearing before an arbitrator of their employer’s choosing. Obviously, employers have too much power in these scenarios and can avoid accountability for repeat offenses.
Talk to a Jacksonville Sexual Harassment Attorney Today
Jacksonville sexual harassment lawyer Carol Galloway files sexual harassment lawsuits on behalf of Jacksonville employees who suffer sexual harassment in the workplace. Call today to discuss the matter in more detail and we can begin planning to hold your employer accountable.