When you walk into the lobby of many major tech companies, one of the first things you’ll encounter is a tablet screen laying out what you can and can’t talk about after you leave. When you intern at a major law firm, you might be forced to agree to not to bring your case in front of a court. And when you leave a job at IBM — willingly or not — you’re required to sign a whole stack of paperwork agreeing that you won’t take a public stance about your experience.
There are, of course, many reasons a company would want to create an atmosphere of confidentiality between employer and employee. Some are arguably to everyone’s benefit — privacy agreements both sides wish to uphold. But some have been used to conceal harm, and even crimes. Such documents have popped up in story after story over the past year, from celebrity chef Mike Isabella insulting women with impunity after they’d signed NDAs, Bill O'Reilly requiring women to sign settlement documents denying evidence of harassment as “counterfeit or forgeries,” Harvey Weinstein preventing victims from even getting copies of the documents they’d signed, and, of course, the President of the United States buying silence at most stages of his career, including this one.
We know these aren’t the only examples. We hope to learn more about what effect these documents have on people’s lives and careers. If you’ve got a story to tell, we would of course love to hear it. But even if you don’t, we’d like to see your NDA anyway to learn more about what these agreements can encompass.
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