For those who have been following the news recently, it is practically impossible to go a mere hour without hearing the phrase “NDA”. You may also be noticing other legal terminology used in conjunction with sexual harassment cases. After all, non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement have become an industry standard when sexual harassment cases are being settled. However, questions about the ethics of these agreements have been dominating the conversation recently.
Due to Daren Lipinsky’s vast experience advocating for those who have been sexually harassed, the senior trial attorney has been called upon to consult various groups and participate in informational hearings. When California’s state legislature wanted to expand its knowledge on the topic, they asked Lipinsky to enlighten the group on the details and intricacies of the way these cases are often settled. Not only did the lawyer shed light on the facts and statistics, but he also provided the group with his unique perspective after 20 years of litigating such cases.
For instance, many people tend to believe that sexual harassment only occurs in certain industries, but this is far from the truth. From low-level banking employees to those who hold glamorous positions in the entertainment industry, the list of victims spans a stunning array of sectors. Furthermore, after detailing the actions of their accusers and reliving the painful scenarios over and over again, many victims are traumatized and crave a sense of closure. Perhaps they don’t want to be continuously characterized by one of the worst times in their life, so they choose to sign agreements that will prevent the details of their stories from being publicized.
However, later in life, some victims may feel constrained by the terms of their agreements. They may want to prevent their abusers from humiliating subordinates and uprooting the lives of so many others. As we have seen in many situations, from the movie industry to religious institutions and professional sports, abusers often keep up their reigns of terror for years. When agreements are signed, and secret settlements made, their deeds often remain unpunished, allowing them to victimize even more people. Indeed, it is a cycle of victimization, heartbreak, and despair that can seem never-ending at times. In the end, it is secrecy that often allows abusers to continue with these behaviors.
Unfortunately, this type of harassment has become pervasive and even normalized. When a certain employee contributes a great deal to a company’s bottom line, that company may even choose to include harassment settlements in their budget.Unfortunately, these abusers are practically rewarded for their atrocious acts. In a world that seems so enlightened and socially aware in many other respects, this is one area that desperately needs cleaning up. Fortunately, people like Daren Lipinsky and Senator Connie Leyva are working to repair the loopholes that allow abusers to maintain their malignant ways through the use of secret settlements.
With the new bill SB-820, victims of harassment finally have a way to state their truth without being penalized in the court of law. Lawmakers are tired of the old status quo that provides consistent protection to those who wish to do harm. Striving for the goal of a culture that is free of harassment, this group has demonstrated a commitment to true justice. As Lipinsky has stated repeatedly, public knowledge of abusers’ actions seems to provide the only avenue for genuine liberation from these unconscionable behaviors. To transform the landscape, our legal communities will need to work together, ensuring that victims have a way to get out their messages.
Lipinsky has shined a spotlight on the fact that no other areas of the law allow for mandates that tamper with the civil liberties of victims. In this day and age especially, our society must hold people accountable. And often, the only way to do this is through judicial application of the law. SB-820 provides the necessary tools that victims deserve. This is a civil justice issue that demands immediate change. In the wake of the #metoo movement, a stunning number of people come forward to tell their stories. Some of them have even defied their secret settlements and risked financial ruin to do so. Victims should have the right to reclaim their lives without the fear of legal consequences.
The Argument Against Employer Mandated Secret Settlements In Sexual Harassment Claims
Watch Daren Lipinsky’s recent testimony on behalf of the CAOC before the California Senate Judiciary Committee in support of AB820. This bill effectively bans employer mandated secret settlements of sexual harassment and discrimination claims. It’s well worth watching!