Non disclosure agreements in discrimination cases: The ugly truth
The Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) recently reviewed the use of non disclosure agreements (NDAs) in discrimination cases. The WEC made it very clear that this was an area of law that was in need of urgent reform, and here is why…
As it currently stands, the WEC made it apparent in their report that NDAs are often used in discrimination cases to settle the matter quickly and quietly, without being investigated properly. As a result, discrimination at work is often 'covered up' through the use of NDAs. WEC also explored how this can have long term negative effects on ex employees, resulting in emotional and financial distress which can lead to other issues. WEC urged in their report that the covering up culture needs to end, and more needs to be done to safeguard employees. As a result, the WEC came up with a list of recommendations for the Government to consider, the key points are:
- To ensure that NDAs cannot prevent legitimate discussion of allegations of unlawful discrimination or harassment, and stop their use to cover up allegations of unlawful discrimination, while still protecting the rights of victims to be able to make the choice to move on with their lives.
- To obtain a standard, plain English confidentiality, non-derogatory and similar clauses where these are used in settlement agreements, and ensure that such clauses are suitably specific about what information can and cannot be shared and with whom.
- To strengthen corporate governance requirements to require employers to meet their responsibilities to protect those they employ from discrimination and harassment.
- To require named senior managers at board level or similar to oversee anti-discrimination and harassment policies and procedures and the use of NDAs in discrimination and harassment cases.
The government have not yet responded to the WEC’s report. However, as it is in the public interest that discrimination cases should be dealt with transparently, we anticipate that the government will respond positively to the recommendations.
For more information on this topic please contact Sophie Clarke or you can give us a call on 0345 070 6000.
This article was prepared by Savanita Atwal.