Non-disclosure agreements are at the forefront of this month’s employment news. It comes following an academic from the University of Liverpool breaking a controversial non-disclosure agreement to speak out against bullying on campus.
Anahid Kassabian, 59, a former music professor at the University of Liverpool, claimed that she was “bullied out” of her 10-year position. She was suffering from cancer when she signed a non-disclosure agreement in 2015. According to Ms Kassabian the University offered her a year’s salary to sign a non-disclosure agreement and told her that they would announce her dismissal within a week if she declined.
Ms Kassabian, who also has multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, believes her medical conditions had led to her ability to work being called into question, without the causes of the emotional stress she was under being adequately addressed. Ms Kassabian claims that she has been subject to bullying. Disability discrimination would also be at play here. However, because she signed a non-disclosure agreement this meant that she is contractually required not to reveal details of the allegations or she risks being sued.
Despite this, Ms Kassabian has broken her non-disclosure agreement in the hope that others will follow suit.
This comes amidst a report from the BBC which shows that universities have spent nearly £90 million on pay-offs with non-disclosure agreements attached over the last two years.
Non-Disclosure Agreements were designed to stop the sharing of business trade secrets if employees changed jobs. However, they are persistently being misused to protect serial perpetrators of misconduct.
Last month the government announced that use of gagging clauses to cover up allegations of misconduct could be made unlawful.