#MeToo

Can I speak out about sexual harassment after signing an NDA?

Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
Mar 3

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 🙁

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  • Microsoft TecA10
    Non 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.
    Mar 37
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      This is good to know! Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.
      Mar 3
    • Undisclosed MaybeBezos
      Oh 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 3
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      @MaybeBezos omg thank you so much! This is such a stressful thing for me and I appreciate you telling me this. NDAs shouldn’t be used to silence people on issues like sexual harassment!
      Mar 3
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      Is it normal for a company to pressure someone into signing an NDA? I felt like I had no choice.
      Mar 3
    • Undisclosed Sioux
      Yes... 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 3
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      This is so helpful! Thank you!
      Mar 3
    • Amazon Hru
      If you were a victim of sexual harassment speak up. Don't worry about the consequences. I think people in the industry will back you up
      Mar 3
  • Adobe beta
    What 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.
    Mar 36
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      It says I can not disparage the company in any way. Is that even legal if it comes to reporting sexual harassment?
      Mar 3
    • Undisclosed hdanon
      No, it can't prevent you from filing a police report. It can prevent you from calling a press conference.
      Mar 3
    • Flagged by the community.

    • Undisclosed hdanon
      I cannot stress enough that you need to consult a lawyer.
      Mar 4
    • New CWmz82
      Consulting a lawyer is the best advice here. They can tell you many things, often for free during an initial consult. The biggest IMHO is how much you may get or how much it can cost you in time, money, and career.
      Mar 4
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      Thank you!
      Mar 4
  • Undisclosed / Engbinarycafe
    We can't advise you on legal matters. Lawyer up, that's the only way you'll know for sure
    Mar 33
    • Undisclosed / Engbinarycafe
      Is there an echo in here? 🤔😆
      Mar 3
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      I will, but I was mainly wondering if anyone else has experienced this. It’s a bit of a intimidating thinking about the whole situation.
      Mar 3
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      @p5as1& loud and clear :)
      Mar 3
  • Microsoft BarFoo
    L-a-w-y-e-r. For all questions about contracts or legal questions, always, always, always consult a lawyer.
    Mar 32
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      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.
      Mar 3
    • Undisclosed / Engbinarycafe
      I don't blame you. If you Google this issue, you may be able to come up with similar cases that have already been filed for other companies. Good luck.
      Mar 3
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Undisclosed / Engbinarycafe
      User name checks out
      Mar 4
    • LUXLOCK / Product
      TqO45s4

      LUXLOCKProduct

      BIO
      Thankful everyday I am in tech and grew up without it.
      TqO45s4more
      Severance and an nda are not the same as a settlement for silence.
      Mar 4
  • Microsoft / Eng20% raise
    you possibly already violated the NDA by posting about it here
    Mar 32
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      Wow what a crazy thought that that could be true
      Mar 3
    • Undisclosed / Engbinarycafe
      Nah, M$FT isn't sure on this.

      Illegal stuff can and should be reported
      Mar 4
  • Deloitte / OtherParPaper
    Sorry 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.
    Mar 41
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      Oh my! I think I read your story about Deloitte! I hope your situation has improved!
      Mar 4
  • Undisclosed FsjY62
    That’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.
    Mar 31
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      Thank you! Yes, EEOC might be the appropriate way to go.
      Mar 3
  • Undisclosed Ufjsna
    Wow 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.
    Mar 40
  • Undisclosed hdanon
    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.
    Mar 30
  • Qualcomm / EngzHIy06
    NDA 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 ?
    Mar 31
    • Undisclosed / OpsHsnak58
      OP
      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.
      Mar 3
  • VMware / Eng
    pornhub

    VMwareEng

    BIO
    Can't wait to retire...
    pornhubmore
    So am I the only personal interested in what happened? Remember we don't know the company so a little story wouldn't hurt.
    Mar 40
  • Red Hat slapshot
    Also, does an NDA stop you from reporting a crime? I wouldn’t think so... right!?!
    Mar 220
  • Amazon eso374
    I'm not a lawyer but I believe legally they have to give you 21 days to evaluate the NDA. What they did was illegal
    Mar 210
  • LUXLOCK / Product
    TqO45s4

    LUXLOCKProduct

    BIO
    Thankful everyday I am in tech and grew up without it.
    TqO45s4more
    Let the lawer do thier job...
    Mar 40
  • LUXLOCK / Product
    TqO45s4

    LUXLOCKProduct

    BIO
    Thankful everyday I am in tech and grew up without it.
    TqO45s4more
    Its an NDA not a gag order.. if you got let go because you reported sexual harassment you need to speak up and offer protection to current and future employees. The board of directors and investors should know. Talk to an attirney for their opinion.
    Mar 40
  • Proofpoint rix
    Pay a couple of hundred for an hour of lawyer time to find out.
    Mar 30
  • Undisclosed dBag
    You cannot contract out of law.
    Mar 30

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