In the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, New Jersey lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would prohibit defendants in certain kinds of discrimination cases from requiring employees to sign nondisclosure agreements in out of court settlements.
A non-disclosure agreement, also known as a confidentiality agreement, is common in almost any settlement agreement that resolves one party’s claims against another party. Typically, the potential defendant agrees to pay the potential plaintiff a sum of money, and in exchange the plaintiff gives up his or her right to sue and both sides agree that they will not discuss the details of the agreement.
The bill, known as S121, supported by State Senator Loretta Weinberg would prohibit employers from using non-disclosure provisions to keep victims of workplace sexual harassment from speaking out. Speaking about the bill, Sen. Weinberg stated that “nondisclosure agreements have been used to silence and intimidate the victims of sexual assault and harassment. Too many victims have been forced to suffer in silence for far too long while the abusers went unpunished as they preyed on more women. Limiting these so-called ‘confidentiality agreements’ will help lift the secrecy that allowed the abuses to continue.”
In addition to baring non-disclosure agreements, the bill also states that any agreement that “waives any substantive or procedural right or remedy relating to a claim of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment shall be deemed against public policy and unenforceable.” If passed, this language will no doubt be the subject of additional court decisions, as it is likely that employees may seek to void mandatory arbitration agreements if an employee alleges a violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Currently, some employers force employees to sign mandatory arbitration agreements in exchange for employment.
S121, and the issue of nondisclosure agreements has drawn much public and media scrutiny after President Donald Trump’s legal team required Stormy Daniels to sign an NDA agreement before receiving a $130,000 settlement. Likewise, Harvey Weinstein also required plaintiffs in his cases to sign confidentiality agreements.
Atlantic County Employment Lawyers at Levine Staller Represent Employees in Discrimination and Harassment Settlements
The South Jersey employment lawyers at Levine, Staller, Sklar, Chan & Brown, P.A. are experienced in all employment law matters and provide skilled representation to both employers and employees. Employment laws in New Jersey are constantly evolving, and we pride ourselves on staying abreast of any new developments. We represent clients throughout New Jersey, including in Atlantic County, Ocean County, and Cape May County from our office in Atlantic City. To arrange a confidential consultation, call us at 609-348-1300 or contact us online.