Over the past few years, non-disclosure agreements have earned a bad reputation in the media. Americans are learning more and more about how corporations use NDAs to silence unethical and even illegal practices. Because of this, many professionals now refer to them as hush contracts.
NDAs have also played an increasingly common role in protecting the reputation of powerful executives from #MeToo accusations, particularly men. Many now believe the practice should become outlawed.
The dark role of NDAs in silencing sexual harassment victims
The Atlantic shares a story on how NDAs made it impossible for one sexual abuse victim to share the details of her experience. This stemmed from the NDA the accused parties allegedly compelled her to sign as part of the settlement agreement. Consequently, when asked questions, she prefaced her answers with an obligatory statement that she could say nothing to disparage the reputations of two parties involved in the case.
Blowback from the public against NDAs
Activists continue to lobby the relevant authorities to compel big media companies to release victims from NDAs. These people believe that knowing what happened, to whom and perpetrated by whom are matters of public safety. While many of these contracts may become difficult to enforce when brought to court, the people who sign them suffer emotional and legal pressure to comply. Because of this, few ever challenge it.
Importance of the balance of power
Forbes shares that one factor often making NDAs unenforceable is the imbalance of power. If the person signing the NDA does not have equal power to the entity compelling him or her to sign, the agreement may become unenforceable. Employees may also have the right to seek independent legal counsel at the expense of employers before agreeing to sign an NDA. However, many employees choose not to do so because they really want or need the job and fear losing the opportunity.