Demand law change to stop NDAs being used to silence sexual harassment victims

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In light of the recent #MeToo and #TimesUP movements we have seen more and more people come forward with their experiences of sexual harassment and assault. But perpetrators are exploiting the law to silence victims of abuse and harassment.

Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) are legal contracts that are increasingly being used as a weapon by the rich and powerful to silence whistleblowers and cover up wrongdoing. 

It has just come out that wealthy businessman and Topshop owner Philip Green used an NDA to conceal his identity and stop allegations of racism and sexual harassment being made public -  gagging The Telegraph newspaper from publishing an 8 month expose into allegations about him.

Regularly, across the country victims of offences like sexual assault, bully and racism are being forced to sign Non Disclosure Agreements, preventing them from speaking out about what has happened to them and warning other people. These NDAs are often incorporated into employment contracts preventing employees from speaking out later when something does go wrong in the workplace. According to a BBC survey, 1 in 2 female employees have been victims of sexual harassment, a truly staggering number when you also consider that only 37% reported their harassment.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, whose use of NDAs ensured he was likened to 'God', we have also seen powerful footballers and businessmen use NDAs to silence women who have accused them of rape and sexual abuse.

A legalised 'veil of secrecy' serves as nothing more than a free pass for those who engage in sexual harassment in the workplace. While NDAs are null and void if they are used to cover up any criminal offence, they are still enforceable where the victim has suffered sexual harassment at work. This is manifestly unfair.

Myself and others I am working on this with have personal experience of being forced into silence when trying to highlight experiences of sexual harassment and assault.

We want change.

The public have a right to know if there is culture of wrongdoing. We must offer better protection for employees and victims of sexual harassment and abuse.

We are now asking that the law be reformed to stop employers from using NDAs to silence victims of sexual harassment.

Theresa May announced that the Government would begin a consultation on more rules for "ethical" use of NDAs. While some will view this as positive news, we know that consultations can be a lengthy and costly process, and often shelved when there is a change in Government.

We call on Theresa May and the current government to fast track law reform so that victims of sexual harassment are exempt from signing NDAs. We would also ask that existing NDAs that prevent victims from speaking out are declared null and void.  

We KNOW that there are serious concerns around the use of NDAs to silence victims of sexual harassment and we don't need a Government led consultation to prove this. Please help us ensure that Government takes action on NDAs NOW by signing this petition.