Jan Kruger – The FA via Getty Images
A senior Tory MP is calling for a change in the law to stop “gagging clauses” being used to silence victims of sexual harassment.
Former cabinet minister Maria Miller is set to introduce a 10-minute rule bill on Tuesday that would stop the use of non-disclosure agreements [NDAs] to “cover up” illegal activity and wrongdoings against employees at work.
Miller, who is also a former chair of the women and equalities committee, argues the bill will stop NDAs “silencing victims”.
NDAs were typically used to protect confidential corporate information but in recent years they have been used to silence victims of sexual misconduct, racism, pregnancy discrimination and other human rights violations – often with a pay off.
Miller said NDAs had been “weaponised” to uphold a “culture of abuse”.
She added: “In 2017 the Me Too movement revealed the scale of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.
“When used unethically, NDAs are catastrophically damaging to innocent parties, and immoral because they are being used as safety nets for employers to routinely cover up abuses without consequence. The evidence also shows it takes a huge personal toll on victims, leaving them emotionally and psychologically drained, disillusioned, and left with a total loss of faith in the legal system.
“This is an injustice twice over, which is why I have introduced a bill in Parliament today protecting victims from malicious NDAs that cover up illegal abuse, discrimination and other wrongdoings against employees.
“I believe that legislating to limit NDAs in this way will prevent organisations acting unlawfully in the first place, compelling them to deal with discrimination and other abuses more ethically, rather than impose silence on innocent victims who have been wronged.”
Miller has also partnered with the campaign “Can’t Buy My Silence” which is being launched by Zelda Perkins – the first woman to break an NDA with disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein.
The campaign aims to show the scale of NDA misuse by providing a safe platform for people to share their experiences.
Perkins added: “Until these type of toxic NDAs are abolished, victims of sexual harassment, bullying, and other wrongdoing will continue to be silenced.”