New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, recently signed a law pertaining to workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Bill S121 [2R] (the Act) gives employees more rights when settling certain types of lawsuits with former or current employers. Governor Murphy has made the act a permanent amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
The Act’s purpose is to nullify specific non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in both lawsuit settlements and employment contracts. Under the Act, NDAs that are unenforceable are those that silence victims who have been at the receiving end of sexual assault, discrimination, or harassment, as well as retaliation for related whistleblowing. This officially gives power and a stronger voice to people who might otherwise have to choose between accepting monetary restitution or retaining the freedom to talk about their experiences. At the same time, it does not negate the use of NDAs for other types of business agreements, such as those involving collective bargaining.
This type of progressive legislation is expected to change NDAs that effectively protect the abuser but give little recourse to the victim. For example, Harvey Weinstein reportedly used NDAs to keep workers quiet to be part of his company. The same holds true of other corporate leaders who have been caught but signed NDAs to avoid harming their reputations. Without being able to scare victims into silence using NDAs, predators will no longer be able to hide from the harsh scrutiny of the public eye.
Thus, even if a female employee signs an NDA at the beginning of her tenure with a company, she has not legally waived her right to make a claim against her employer. Not only does this help someone feel more comfortable reporting sexual harassment or discrimination, but it potentially prevents the behavior from going unchecked for months, years, or even decades. It is always wise to seek the counsel of an experienced employment lawyer before signing any employment agreements or contracts.
Knowing what to do in the case of sexual harassment on the job can be confusing, especially for someone who has signed an NDA. If you signed a waiver or NDA and have experienced sexual harassment or discrimination at work, contact the Long Branch employment lawyers at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C. today. For a free consultation, call us at 732-493-9400 or fill out an online contact form today.
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