Can An NDA My Employer Had Me Sign Keep Me From Bringing A Sexual Harassment Claim?
If you have been experiencing sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace, you may be feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to proceed. It can be hard to get a sense of what options you legally have, particularly when NDAs and non-disparagement agreements come into play. It doesn’t help that employers often flout these agreements as bulletproof, and insist that making claims of sexual harassment would constitute a breach and land you in court. Of course, you wouldn’t want to find yourself going toe-to-toe in court with a major corporation, you just want a safe and non-harassing working environment. However, you’ll see that employers are often overexaggerating the legal protections that these documents provide them. NDAs and nondisparagement agreements have their limits legally. They are not a get-out-of-jail-free card for corporations, although they are often used that way. By understanding what NDAs and non-disparagement agreements can and cannot legally keep you from saying, you will not fall victim to your company’s rhetoric.
Is There Anything an NDA Can’t Protect?
NDAs are legal contracts and therefore must adhere to all relevant contract laws. This means that there are absolutely limits on what an NDA can protect. Your employer cannot use an NDA to keep you from disclosing anything that is a matter of public record. Additionally, if you learned information from a source other than your employer, you possessed the information prior to starting work there, or the information is common knowledge in your field, an NDA cannot keep you from disclosing it. Importantly, an NDA cannot be used to keep an employee from disclosing information of illegal conduct or unethical business practices to the proper authorities. Finally, an NDA cannot be used to prevent an employee from filing a sexual harassment complaint with the Equal Opportunity and Employment Commission.
What to Do if You Are Concerned About an NDA or Non-Disparagement Agreement
The best thing to do if you are concerned about the possible implications or speaking up or bringing a complaint if you have signed an NDA or nondisparagement agreement is to consult with a California employment law attorney. Speaking with an attorney is confidential, and will not breach the agreement. Additionally, the attorney will be able to assess the terms of the agreement as well as your specific situation and advise you on your options and the best way to proceed. Many people talk themselves out of coming forward or speaking up out of fear or doubt about whether what they are experiencing actually constitutes illegal or harassing conduct. However, a simple conversation with an attorney could save you years of silent suffering and give you the tools to hold your employer accountable for their behavior.
Schedule a Consultation with Costanzo Law Group
If you are experiencing sexual harassment or discrimination at your California workplace and have suffered disparate employment consequences as a result, don’t let an NDA, non-disparagement agreement, or company rhetoric keep you from getting the guidance and support that you need and are legally entitled to. Contact the San Jose employment lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm today to schedule a consultation and find out how we can help you.