Congress passes bill that limits non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases

Congress passes bill that limits non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 9:54 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A bill that limits non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases was recently passed by Congress.

Louisville has seen examples of these cases, most notably the recent case of former Racing Louisville coach Christy Holly.

In the case of Christy Holly, it’s believed by many that the reason why the sexual harassment allegations took over a year to come to light is because of an NDA.

This bill stops employers from forcing employees to sign an NDA before anything bad ever happens.

The “Speak Out Act” is making its way to President Joe Biden’s desk for a signature. It stops companies from pre-dispute non-disclosure agreements.

“That means if I get a job and my employer says you have to sign this, that if anything happens here there’s an NDA, you can’t talk about it, that’s not going to be allowed,” Laela Kashan, staff attorney at the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs said.

Kashan said NDAs can help keep allegations and incidents under wraps, not only from the public but from other employees.

“If there are other coworkers in that workplace that are experiencing the same thing, they don’t know that it’s happening to someone else,” Kashan said. “And maybe they haven’t found a way to talk about what’s happening to them. Or they don’t want to go through the complaint process.”

Former Racing Louisville head coach Christy Holly was fired in August 2021 with little explanation as to why.

In Oct., an independent investigation revealed that he was allegedly fired for sexually harassing former player Erin Simon.

It’s believed by fans, and Metro Council member Cassie Chambers Armstrong, that it was an NDA that kept it from coming out.

“This is bigger than just what we saw with Louisville Racing FC,” Chambers Armstrong said in Oct. “This is something that we’ve seen be a problem in numerous organizations throughout our city. And this ordinance is really about centering survivors’ voices and ending a culture of silencing victims.”

Chambers Armstrong introduced an ordinance that would ban companies that have been given $50,000 or more from the city from entering into NDAs to cover up sexual misconduct.

Kashan said Kentucky doesn’t have a law that addresses the issue at the state level.

“I hope that Kentucky legislators will look to it and figure out ways that we can make it even stronger in Kentucky,” Kashan said.

There was a similar bill introduced in Kentucky last session, but it didn’t go anywhere.

Kashan said they can make the Speak Out Act stronger by doing things such as expanding it to cover all NDAs and not just pre-dispute ones, and giving the victim the power to decide if they want an NDA.