With the support of local activist Katie Brennan, Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon has introduced a measure asking Congress to pass the SPEAK OUT Act to prevent pre-dispute non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) from applying to victims of sexual assault.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Many people who have signed NDAs are prohibited from speaking about or reporting workplace violence and harassment without serious financial and legal penalties. The SPEAK OUT Act is currently before both Houses of Congress.
“We are breaking the culture of silence. For too long, mandatory NDAs have silenced survivors of sexual violence. Employers subject one in three employees to mandatory NDAs,” Brennan said in a statement.
“Then, when someone experiences sexual violence, they can’t talk about it. This protects perpetrators and companies and hurts everyone else. The SPEAK OUT Act will reverse this injustice, and that’s why we’re fighting for its passage.”
Brennan is the executive director of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D-NY) Office of Storm Recovery and previously as the chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.
After her own sexual assault and navigation through the justice system, she publicly called for sexual harassment reform in the Wall Street Journal, which led to local, statewide and federal legislative hearings, the enactment of dozens of legal reforms, and a $1,000,000 settlement in May 2020 – $600,000 of which went towards the Waterfront Project.
“While the #MeToo movement has seen a global movement of women speaking out against sexual violence and harrassment, too many people are still prevented from doing so,” added Solomon.
“NDAs can too often be used to prevent people from speaking out about legitimate crimes under penalty of prosecution. This must change. I am honored to support Katie’s work to pass the SPEAK OUT Act and push for justice for survivors. I hope Congress acts quickly to pass this bill.”
The resolution will be considered by the council at tomorrow’s 6 p.m. session at City Hall, which can also be livestreamed via Microsoft Teams.