It is standard operating procedure for companies to hold executives and other key employees to nondisclosure agreements. In recent weeks, however, presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has found his company’s use of NDAs as a liability to his candidacy. Critics and opponents accuse Bloomberg of using his vast wealth to silence all nature of complaints against Bloomberg, but especially those involving harassment or misconduct claims.
This has recently led the candidate to release three women from their NDAs. In doing so, he also issued a statement: “I recognize that NDAs, particularly when they are used in the context of sexual harassment and sexual assault, promote a culture of silence in the workplace and contribute to a culture of women not feeling safe or supported.”
Bloomberg’s company has faced criticism in the past for being a place with an entrenched culture of bullying as well as the objectification of women and discrimination against them. One commonly cited example given is basically women who take medical or maternity leave are said to be stealing from the company. This is acknowledged in internal documents and lawsuits as well as interviews with former employees.
Candidate also made comments
It would be accurate to say that the thinking of Bloomberg the candidate and business tycoon has evolved over time. He himself is cited in the past for comments like: If he gave women flexible work arrangements, he’d also have to give men time off to work on their golf game. However, the candidate acknowledged saying these types of comments and recognized that they are wrong and disrespectful.
Nothing to panic about
A vast majority of NDAs have nothing to do with specific bad behavior or a coverup of some sort; instead, they are used to keep disgruntled ex-employees from disparaging the company or sharing the company’s trade secrets.
Protecting what is important
NDAs aim to protect important information and valuable trade secrets and intellectual property for a stated period. It protects the best interests of the company but also can be a win-win where former employees are well-compensated for agreeing to the conditions. Those with questions regarding their use here in Massachusetts and New Hampshire can speak with a business law attorney with experience handling these kinds of agreements.