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Employment Law Notebook

NJ Mulls Ban on Harassment Settlement Confidentiality

The NJ Legislature is considering a ban on confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements in sexual harassment cases. While this would encourage a more open public record (and identify potential serial harassers), it could cause many employers to refuse to settle. That in turn, would require harassment victims to either: (i) pursue their claims in an open forum (court filings are public records and are increasingly easy to find with google searches); or (ii) just let it go and receive no remedy at all. Option (i) has some real challenges for harassment victims, as the litigation process is years-long and requires people to re-tell and re-live the same troubling events over and over again. Also, litigation is uncertain. Even the most deserving plaintiffs can lose if a judge or jury doesn't like their case for some reason. Additionally, many sexual harassment victims want to keep the matter private to avoid being branded and blacklisted within their profession (and they often even seek clauses in settlement agreements requiring the employer to respond in a neutral manner to inquiries from prospective employers). The ban being proposed by the NJ legislature could effectively limit a harassment victims choices and do more harm to them than good. Here is a link to a news article about it that you can click through to:   http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/10/harvey_weinstein_scandal_ha...