We did not know: How non-disclosure agreements can protect workplace abusers

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IN RECENT days, as numerous actresses have described harrowing encounters with Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced film producer, attention has turned to the vehicle that helped keep these episodes quiet for years: non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). “We did not know we were working for a serial sexual predator”, thirty or so of Harvey Weinstein’s former employees write in an unsigned letter published in the New Yorker on October 19th. “We knew that our boss could be manipulative”, they go on. “We did not know that he used his power to systematically assault and silence women”. The authors of the letter say they want to end the enforced silence in which they have been held. “We know that in writing this we are in open breach of the non-disclosure agreements in our contracts”, they write. “But our former boss is in open violation of his contract with us—the employees—to create a safe place for us to work”. They ask the Weinstein Company to “let us out of our NDAs immediately” and to “do the same for all former Weinstein Company employees”. Freed of the gag order, former employees might “speak openly, and get to the origins of what happened here, and how”. Mr Weinstein has denied allegations of non-consensual sex.The Weinstein scandal raises questions about the prevalence and enforceability …

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