COMMONS

Use of non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases

28 March 2018

The Women and Equalities Committee holds an evidence session for its inquiry into sexual harassment in workplaces which focuses on the use and possible abuse of non-disclosure agreements

Non-disclosure agreements

Non-Disclosure Agreements is a catch-all term for agreements that include confidentiality clauses – sometimes referred to as gagging clauses.

They are used in employment contracts for a range of purposes including, for example, protecting intellectual property, trade secrets or other confidential information such as customer details.

They are also commonly used in agreements that are reached between employers and employees when employment is terminated (known as settlement agreements).

However, there has also been criticism of their use in sexual harassment cases, with concerns that they may be used to conceal improper, discriminatory or even illegal behaviour or to impede reporting of such behaviour to the proper authorities.

Purpose of the session

Issues likely to be covered in this session include:

  • the benefits and risks of NDAs; the effect their use can have on those who sign them;
  • the provision of advice to individuals signing NDAs;
  • whistleblowing and enforceability;
  • content and potential for abuse;
  • ethics and regulation.

The Committee is also keen to hear witnesses' suggestions for reforms to ensure that NDAs are not misused in cases where sexual harassment is alleged.

Witnesses

Wednesday 28 March 2018, Thatcher room, Portcullis House.

At 10am

  • Zelda Perkins, former assistant to Harvey Weinstein.

The Committee requested a copy of a non-disclosure agreement signed by Zelda Perkins from the law firms which hold it.

This request was declined because Mr Harvey Weinstein has refused permission to release it.

Mr Weinstein, Miramax and Disney were all offered an opportunity to give a written statement or oral evidence to the Committee, but declined.

At 10.20am

  • Mark Mansell, Partner, Allen & Overy, LLP
  • Tamara Ludlow, Partner, Simons Muirhead & Burton, LLP

At 10.40am

  • Max Winthrop, Chair of Employment Law Committee, Law Society
  • Suzanne McKie QC, Founder, Farore Law
  • Gareth Brahams, Chair of the Employment Lawyers Association and Managing Partner at Brahams Dutt Badrick French, LLP

Further information

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