State lawmakers seek to end restrictive non-disclosure agreements

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TRENTON -

Some New Jersey lawmakers are looking to end restrictive non-disclosure agreements for victims of workplace harassment.

The bill, which recently passed in the state Senate, would allow these victims to tell their story about the harassment that they endured.

Currently, non-disclosure agreements prevent an employee from speaking out about sexual harassment or abuse they experienced in the workplace. NDAs have been used in secret settlements involving Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and President Donald Trump.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg introduced legislation that would prevent NDAs from being enforceable against an employee.

“The object is not to allow victims to be victims and then to collect money,” Weinberg told News 12 New Jersey. “The object is to stop the behavior.”

Elaine Zundl of Rutgers' Center for Women says that sometimes victims will opt in for the NDAs because they want to protect their privacy.

But she says that data about harassment at work is limited in part because NDAs can suppress reporting. Zundl also says many women who are victims don’t report the harassment for fear of losing their jobs.

“A lot of the cases that we've heard about during [#MeToo movement] have been the Harvey Weinsteins,” she says. “But the low-income worker, the majority of women who are probably battling this issue, their voices are really not heard.”

The bill will now head to the state Assembly for review and vote.

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