Can I speak out about sexual harassment after signing an NDA?
Recently, I was let go from a startup. No real reason was given, so it was quite a surprise. I was immediately presented with a severance which I would only get if I signed a non disclosure agreement and I had to make the decision right then and there. I felt like I had no choice, because I didn’t make much money and was barely getting by.
A couple weeks earlier I reported sexual harassment at work. The timing seems sketchy with when I was let go and I’m kicking myself for signing the NDA, because I want to speak out, but don’t know if I can be held liable for doing so. I don’t want any money for it, I just feel it’s the right thing to do.
Does anyone have any experience with this? And does anyone know if I can be sued for speaking out about what happened even though I signed an NDA? Again, I’m not expecting any money, nor do I want to sue them. I just want to do the right thing because I’m not the only one at the company who has experienced this. Thanks for reading. #MeToo 🙁
- AdobebetaWhat does the NDA say? If it’s limited just to trade secrets and such I’d imagine you can speak up about this incident. Also I don’t think any NDA should be allowed to silence someone from reporting something illegal.
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- MicrosoftTecA10Non disclosure agreements don't cover illegal behavior. If you reported sexual h earlier and feel the matter was unresolved it doesn't matter what you signed.
- UndisclosedMaybeBezosOh no no no. TecA10 is partially incorrect. NDA doesn't prevent reporting illegal behavior to the authorities/cops but it certainly prevents speaking out. Talk to a lawyer. The company can and will sue you for much more than your severance. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.
EDIT: To clarify, reporting it to the cops is normally allowed under NDA. Talking to an attorney under attorney-client privilege is also normally allowed. Making a post on Blind or any website/app/news outlet might be prohibited.Mar 35
- UndisclosedSiouxYes... Companies will do almost anything, including supposed "take it or leave it offers" where you're pressured to sign an NDA for severance after conspicuously timed termination. Talk to a plaintiff side employment attorney ASAP; it's free to you and if they see merit in the case (which btw you can -always- talk to your attorney without running afoul of NDA), they'll take it on. If a lawyer says they'll take it on contingency with no cost to you, let them run with it, because it will A) shine a bright light on the company that's badly needly in the Weinstein era and B) get you much needed money. Don't rule out litigation if an attorney sees merit; only the company that screwed you wins if you do.Mar 36
- We can't advise you on legal matters. Lawyer up, that's the only way you'll know for sure
- MicrosoftBarFooL-a-w-y-e-r. For all questions about contracts or legal questions, always, always, always consult a lawyer.
- Like I said, unlike a lot of people it seems like on here, I don’t have a lot of money. I called one attorney and their office said they said it would normally be free to speak with them the first time, but since I said I had no intention of suing, it would cost money. I think it was $350 for the hour if I made an appointment. I guess I just wanted any feedback others had before spending that money because it is a lot to me.
- Consult a lawyer to be sure. Again, I am not a lawyer. You should consult one. But in general, NDAs don't cover reporting illegal activity to the authorities. So if what happened to you is illegal and you have evidence, you're probably safe speaking to the police, especially in this climate. What you probably can't do is call a press conference.
- Qualcomm / EngzHIy06NDA is Not applicable for illegal bh. Lawyer up and you need to document and prove the behavior .. get others to join you if they faced the same. By the way what was the harassment done to you by folks in the company ?
- Are you sure? @maybebezos said up above that it doesn’t prohibit me from going to the authorities, but that I can be sued for speaking about it to others. And the harassment was from one individual above me who would say very graphic things to women. That person still works there even after multiple reports. Not ok.
- UndisclosedFsjY62That’s horrible and sorry that happened. You don’t need a paying lawyer to start. Call EEOC. Cant find on web and can make an appointment. Government agency and free. They can handle for you to do investigation to start and will recommend if it’s a case they will take up or say that they won’t but you should go to a legal firm. Regardless this way can see if the case has enough merit for them to handle for free.
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- Deloitte / OtherParPaperSorry this happened to you. You can report illegal behavior to EEOC, to the police, or consult a lawyer or doctor, without breaking an NDA. But you can’t go to the media, tell all your friends, name the company on Blind, etc.
Imagine if you’d witnessed fraud, money laundering, murder or theft - it would actually be a crime for a company to pay you to cover up criminal activity and prevent you reporting it to the police.
If the activity was criminal (sexual assault), then you can report it to the police. If is was verbal harassment, then this is civil law and you should read up on EEOC processes on their website. You can learn a LOT by reading that, and it’ll save you some legal fees. Firing you may have been retaliation, which would also fall under EEOC.
- UndisclosedUfjsnaWow wtf is everyone talking about here? First of all she should talk to a lawyer before doing anything (and yes you absolutely can talk to a lawyer regardless of NDA).
Why is everyone saying that harassment was illegal and something that should be reported to the police? Workplace harassment is not illegal. If there was something physical that’s a whole different story but that’s not harassment. From what she said in comments he would make vivid sexual comments. That is not illegal and is protected by freedom of speech. What’s not protected is wrongful termination which it would be if she was fired for reporting it to HR.
This is what you need to talk to a lawyer about but it sounds like by taking the money you forfeit the right to take them to court over wrongful termination. If you speak up publicly about the person or the company I would think they could claim libel / slander. This is why you need to talk to a lawyer and not listen to people on blind. The ramifications can be much greater than just not following the NDA.