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Non-disclosure deals should not hide harassment: B.C. Greens

B.C. Greens want to make it illegal to misuse non-disclosure agreements.
B.C. Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

The B.C. Greens tabled a bill Thursday to make it illegal for employers and other organizations to misuse non-disclosure agreements in cases of harassment or discrimination.

The proposed Non-Disclosure Agreements Act restricts the use and content of non-disclosure agreements relating to acts and allegations of discrimination and harassment.

Whereas NDAs were designed to prohibit the sharing of trade secrets, the B.C. Greens say they’ve instead become tools to silence victims of workplace discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment and racism.

“This is a pervasive issue across the province, and around the world, and it’s time that British Columbia steps up to make our workplaces a safer, more transparent place for everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable,” said Sonia Furstenau, leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley.

She called on the premier to support the bill.

The Canadian Bar Association recently passed a resolution seeking to prevent the misuse of NDAs in harassment and discrimination cases.

Several provinces have put forward laws to prohibit the misuse of NDAs, including Manitoba, P.E.I., Nova Scotia and Ontario. Ontario’s version prohibits universities from using NDAs in cases of faculty or student sexual misconduct.

“Too many British Columbians are faced with gag orders that allow instances of harm to be swept under the rug,” said Furstenau. “It’s time for this practice to end.”

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