Companies initially started using non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to protect their trade secrets and sensitive information about the business that could be used against them if it got into the wrong hands, but some companies have attempted to stretch the limits of what NDAs can do for them. Some companies have made non-disclosure agreements in their employment contracts so broad as to prohibit their workers from talking about almost anything having to do with their work.
But a court can invalidate an NDA if the judge determines that the agreement is too broad, which they will usually do if they find sufficient evidence that the agreement extends beyond protecting the company’s legitimate business interests and/or inhibits the rights of the employees.
Some states, including California, Pennsylvania, and New York have proposed legislation to limit an NDA’s ability to prevent workers from speaking out about harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Currently, Chloe Caras, a former restaurant manager for Mike Isabella, is accusing the former “Top Chef” contestant of sexual misconduct, and of promoting and maintaining a work environment in which sexual harassment was not only allowed but actively encouraged. She filed a federal lawsuit asking for the NDA she signed to be invalidated so she could speak out about her unpleasant experiences working for Isabella.
Isabella and his team maintain that their NDAs were designed only with the intention of preventing any leaks of any information about a new restaurant’s opening ahead of when they were ready to announce it. Far from trying to intimidate employees into silence, the restaurant claims workers were encouraged to report any incidents of misconduct. Continue reading