The story of Harvey Weinstein and the mass accusations against him of sexual misconduct has been in the news for almost six months, and in that time it has set the tone for the #metoo movement and a wave of new sexual harassment policies bursting forth around the country. And now there’s potential for more people to be able to speak up again the former Hollywood producer. Weinstein Co. recently filed bankruptcy, with plans for a sale in the wings, while the board also released any non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) put into place between employees and Harvey Weinstein.
A former assistant of Weinstein has been sharing more about the NDAs as part of efforts to help curb workplace misconduct in the future, according to a report from Deadline. She told a UK parliamentary committee that employees were pressured into signing NDAs. She alleges vague threats made to her and others if they chose to speak out against alleged sexual violation committed by Weinstein. Part of why she agreed to sign the NDA, she said, was the inclusion of clauses that would keep Weinstein accountable for his actions in the future. However, she said that portion of the agreement was largely ignored. The assistant first broke her NDA last fall shortly after stories about Weinstein sparked conversations about whether non-disclosure agreements should be enforced against workers who suffered sexual harassment or exploitation.Our skilled sexual harassment lawyers in Los Angeles know this is a far too common tactic among workplace predators. The fundamental intent of a non-disclosure agreement is to allow the exchange of confidential information without fear that information might be disclosed and hurt the company. It could be about protecting trade secrets or confidential financial information. In employment contracts, non-disclosure agreements prevent current or former employees from trashing their bosses. Too often, though, it is used by the company to keep former workers quiet about questionable working conditions or other issues. It can seem impossible for some workers to publicly come forward with information about misdeeds or misconduct. Their only course of action may be hope for an impartial human resources investigation.
However, California law does not allow enforcement of a confidentiality agreement if its attached to civil settlements involving some potential crimes, such as child sex abuse or felony sexual assault.
In many cases, people who sign non-disclosure agreements tend to believe the contract applies more broadly than it really does. For those who don’t feel they have many options, they might agree to something that goes against their best interests in the name of short-term security. Our attorneys can help sort out your rights and obligations, fight for your right to speak out and determine whether you have an actionable claim against your employer.
As for the continually unfolding narrative against Weinstein, we hope the elimination of the NDAs will encourage anyone else who has not come forward to speak their truth.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Weinstein Co. Files for Bankruptcy, Terminates All Non-Disclosure Agreements, March 19, 2018, Andrea Mandell, USA Today
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Weinstein Co. Must Answer Sexual Harassment Allegations in Court, Feb. 23, 2018, Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorneys Blog