Story 21

I was working in a privately owned company as a senior lawyer.  I went on maternity leave with my first child and keep in contact with my line manager with regular keep in touch days.  On my return, the staff that had been reporting to me had been reassigned to a colleague with no explanation.


I requested to work from home one day a week in order to spend more time with my son, who was not yet a year old.  My line manager informally approved the request but when the CEO of the company heard of this, he complained as he felt it would “set the wrong tone” for the company and my request was denied.  When I met the general counsel to discuss this, he told me that the company “broke laws all the time, so it had no problem breaking employment law too” and advised me that I was better off “being a stay at home mother”, as his wife had done.  He also said that, given that I was not a man or the right nationality, I had no future in the company anyway. 


A few months later I was told my role would be moving to a new location and that, given the whole working from home fiasco, there was no opportunity for me to stay in London where the rest of my team were located.  At that time I was pregnant with my second child and was finding the hostile work environment unbearable.  I signed an NDA (or settlement agreement), in which I agreed to remain silent in return for a payout and left the company.



Story 1

When I resigned from my employment after facing retaliation for reporting internal abuses of power, I refused to sign an NDA. At the time I resigned, there was an ongoing class action lawsuit. I had to agree not to join the $167M class action in order to maintain my voice. I knew that the way I was treated was wrong, and being able to speak about my experience allowed me to address lawmakers and affect positive changes to provincial laws. Now my former employer is pursuing legal action for allegedly breaching an NDA that does not exist. NDAs are so common in Canada, most people assume I signed one. They want me to stop telling the public what they did, and they have spent over $500k of the public’s money, so far, to try to achieve my silence.

Story 2

My nightmare scenario started with me putting in a complaint at work against ‘bullying management’. As everyone knows who have tried to get justice, that goes down like a lead balloon and the abused never win a grievance hearing! Then a protracted Industrial Tribunal was launched by me for unfair dismissal (took 2 years).   A begrudgingly last minute settlement was agreed and then the NDA was levelled at me like an afterthought. It was Christmas and my already shattered nerves could take no more. There was no real support for me as people were already on leave (no encouragement for a solicitor/provided as I was a litigant in person) and Arbitration and Conciliation Advice Service didn’t make me aware of the gravity of the NDA.   To try and quantify the effect on my health doesn’t quite cut it. I will try and bullet-point a few things, as I am suffering from PTSD I could appear to be rambling on a bit which I wont apologise for as that’s one aspect of trauma. I have had two major surgeries during the time period mentioned and one was that complex, that would have had catastrophic physical and mental trauma in it’s own right without the PTSD for the NDA.   I have recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea and now have a device for bed (CPAP) to go with my mouthguard for teeth grinding. I also have memory loss, tinnitus, brain fog, fibromyalgia and continence problems. Continual tears when thinking about working again. I have anxiety and stress all the time and to have to battle the system for benefit support, when too ill to work.   Some sparkle and joy has been taken out of my life. Freedom denied to shout from the rooftops of the NDA abuse. I know my health will not greatly improve until I feel I am not silenced anymore, and we know while NDA’s are used as a weapon, mine and others injustices will go on. Seriously thinking of breaking mine so I can start to heal, as it’s unbearable and soul destroying.

Story 3

I was asked to sign an NDA twice in my life.   Once, after a formal complaint to my HR department’s officials (I worked for large media company), about sexual harassment by my boss. I even placed a Human Rights complaint, but was told that would take many years to go through the overburdened system. I could not afford the on-going legal fees to defend my case ($250 per hour in 1988), so I finally felt pressured to give up my case.   A very small settlement was offered to me by the company lawyers with an NDA at the end of the documents. I had already had to leave my job prior to this because of the stress and being ostracized by other managers and employees who knew of my complaint, and felt there was no other option for me, other than financial ruin if I continued with a lawyer. The NDA was sprung on me with a take this or nothing ultimatum.   The second time was after a new home construction defects dispute with the home builder for mis-used equipment and faulty heating and improper wood support beams used in construction leading to sagging and mould. The construction defects were never fixed. I was a self-represented litigant at Small Claims Court and the License Appeal Tribunal for a total of about 3 years. Finally I was offered a very small settlement “take this or you get nothing”, just to end the stress. I had to sign an extensive NDA, protecting the builder and the government warranty organization.

Story 4

It was probably the most difficult decision of my life. It is certainly the one whose consequences have occupied more space in my head than I care to admit. The cost of whistleblowing is high. I’ve subsequently learnt that the cost of staying silent is higher.   My story took place in a large and well regarded Christian international development charity based in the UK. In 2018, I disclosed to the CEO about serious misconduct by Directors. The CEO acknowledged the gravity of my concerns, we discussed whistleblowing channels and he made a commitment to revert to me with alternatives for next steps. He ended our meeting by praying for wisdom, guidance and restoration of relationships. I felt listened to and hopeful.   Six weeks later, the CEO reneged on his promises and terminated my contract. When I appealed my dismissal and submitted a grievance, I was invited to the UK for a meeting with the Board Chair. He declined my request to be accompanied and our meeting was not minuted or recorded. After accentuating how traumatic grievance and employment tribunal processes can be, the Board Chair proposed an alternative – a settlement agreement. Describing it as a neat way to draw a line under a complex and contested situation, the charity offered a large payment on condition that I signed a contract which absolved them of any liability. Crucially, the settlement agreement was conditional on the inclusion of a confidentiality clause (non-disclosure agreement) as well as the erasure of all data, including the evidence to support my allegations.   The charity paid for me to receive independent legal advice – a requirement in the UK for a settlement agreement to be lawful. However, this does not change the fundamental imbalance of power at play. Nor does it compensate for the fact that most employees facing the decision to sign an NDA are usually doing so when they are highly stressed and have been recently traumatised. In my own case, I was exhausted, depressed and worried about the implications of relocating my family – away from supportive networks of friends, school and church.   I felt deeply conflicted by being asked to choose between making wise decisions for my family or pursuing truth and justice.  I signed the settlement agreement which included an NDA. Within weeks, it became apparent that the charity intended to take full advantage of the silence they had bought from me. The allegations went uninvestigated, Directors were not held to account and any remaining evidence of wrongdoing was buried.   As I recovered from my experience, I started to learn more about NDAs and reflect on their use in Christian organisations and churches. I began to connect with others who similarly had been silenced and realised how widespread they have become. This led me to write my MA thesis on the subject and to campaign for change.   My former employer has recently announced they will no longer use NDAs – and offered to release anybody they have previously bound by one. Whilst they have not honoured this commitment fully in my case, their changing position gives me hope that the dream of Christian organisations and churches being free of NDAs is achievable.

Story 5

At 28 years old and as a woman in the tech industry, my career was thriving. That changed overnight.   I was raped in my hotel room by an older male colleague while traveling on a business trip.   Almost a year after I reported being sexually assaulted by an older male colleague to my boss and to the police, the scheduled date of mediation had finally arrived.   The months leading up to the mediation were agonizingly slow and painfully uneventful. My world had been standing still while the legal battle crawled according to my former employers’ lawyer’s timeline. The date of our scheduled mediation was all I had to look forward to as I was under the impression that resolution would follow and I could be set free from the legal fight that I got thrown into. I was told that the willingness of my former employer to participate in such a third-party mediation was very positive and that meant they were wanting to “get this taken care of” so that everyone could move on. For seven hours, I sat in what was the most offensive, eye-opening, backwards meeting I have ever been a part of. I watched silently as my legal team presented facts and evidence to the mediator as she listened and took notes. She would leave and come back to share the opposing views. Despite claims being totally erroneous, I was not allowed to push back. I was not allowed to defend myself or get answers to my very questions. I was not given explanations other than “this is their position” even when their position was inaccurate and provably false. This wasn’t a day of getting answers, I was reminded of that often throughout the day. It was just a day of negotiating my value vs my rapists’ value thru my former employer’s eyes and how they could get this over with and stay out of court.   Mentally and emotionally, mediation broke me in new ways. I felt helplessness, disbelief, and overwhelming rage all at once. I had to hear lawyers say how fortunate I was that my company was even humoring a settlement offer, because “most women in my position get nothing”. Or comments like… “you should take what you can get because legally this would be a hard battle in court. The laws aren’t designed to protect women in your position, and you could end up with nothing but more emotional and mental damage.”   Once the negotiations started, it was just a numbers game mixed with legal talk. The numbers made no sense to me and my situation. My legal team reminded me to not take offence, that these negotiations are essentially based off an actuary’s spreadsheet. I had gone into mediation telling myself that I would not agree to be silent unless I felt that any settlement offer was enough to repay the debt this situation had put me in and to just buy me some time to heal before needing to start my career over and secure an income. But the process of mediation… seeing the legal system peeled back, my former company staunchly defending my rapist, and the negotiation itself broke me to the point where, for my health, I felt I had no choice but to make it stop. I did step outside to call my best friend towards the end of the day. I remember telling her to remind me not to hate myself for this decision. The conversation was brief because I felt rushed, we had to get everything done that day. The “best and final” offer I was about to agree to was nowhere near what I initially said was my lowest acceptable. I remember being in disbelief that I was going to have to give up and sign an NDA because no part of what I went thru was right or logical in any way. I could tell you that that day I had no idea what I was signing. The words were just a complete blur on paper. I had no idea that I was agreeing to things like:   I was not allowed to pursue and other lawsuits against him or the company. I would forever discharge him and the company of any additional claims, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or for something like emotional distress I could not claim that I was wrongly treated in any way by him or the company. I could not claim that I was injured by him or the company, in any way. I could not aid, assist, or encourage any one else making a claim against him or the company in any way If asked about what happened to me, I have to say I can’t discuss it or I would prefer not to discuss it.   If I break the agreement at any time, I will be fined $20,000 per occurrence. If I want a reference from them for a new job, the only information they will provide are the years I was there & my job title. And I am also not allowed to criticize him or the company, in any way.   To this day, the agreement makes little to no sense to me. Sections are so vague and almost intentionally confusing, even in a good mental state I find it difficult to understand. And parts are almost laughable, the sections that read like an alternate reality attempting to redefine and/or silence someone’s truth.   My whole life changed, in every single possible way. There is no positive because there was no justice, no accountability, not even an apology.  Having to sit and listen to the legal back and forth while not having the ability to defend my credibility, my lack of consent, even my sexuality broke me in ways I would have never imagined. That process will break anyone, all over again. At that time, I hadn’t even been able to start healing from the severe trauma that I went thru.  There was no joy from agreeing to a settlement and agreeing to not say a word about the horrible assault and the way things were handled by a company that preaches about being a best workplace for women. I was put significantly in debt due to the years long battle with my company and then the insurance companies who denied my disability claims. I lost a whole network of friends and colleagues from my former employer. I signed a paper and that specific battle ended, but the fight was nowhere near over. I was forced to start everything over with my head still underwater, alone & silenced. I was so fearful for every woman and friend that I worked with and I wanted nothing more than to tell them what I went thru because I knew that they would be in the same position I was at some point. I was helpless but I had no other option. My life changed drastically but no one else’s did and I didn’t even do anything wrong. I just wanted help for something really bad that happened to me, something that I wish I could have blamed myself for but it was just so wrong that I couldn’t. I saw the onion peeled back that day at mediation and it changed my outlook on people and corporations, the legal system, life in general. Any ounce of warm and bubbly that was once my personality froze over to a bitter, angry cold.   When I look back on that day, anger and disbelief are the strongest emotions that still linger. It was not about right or wrong, it was about money and that was it. Justice and accountability should never be anticipated from a mediation. They are secret meetings between legal teams, hashing out one’s perceived value and instilling fear for speaking out. The future complications and complexities this presents for my career are undeniable as they would be for anyone in this position. We are not set up to succeed in moving forward but those companies get to walk away as if nothing happened and just move on.   That version of who I was is long gone, she no longer exists. But, as I rebuild shamelessly and fiercely, my career will be focused on ensuring that I do whatever it takes to be a disruption and to make that disruption impactful for people like me.

Story 6

I was asked to sign a Confidentiality Agreement after entering into a settlement with the CEO (my boss) of a publicly held company.  On the advice of my lawyers I filed an EEOC complaint in conjunction with a lawsuit against the company for sexual harassment & mental abuse.    My case took less than two months from filing to signed agreements.  It moved rapidly back and forth between attorneys and I was often told we had to respond within 24 hours.  The first time I felt pressure was when I had to be convinced it was ok that the Settlement Agreement said neither the company or my boss were admitting fault.  Upon sending the narrative of my claims to their lawyers, my boss responded saying he believed our relations to be consensual.  I was devastated, and thought the case would go to court and my lawyers would defend all the language submitted in the narrative.  However, my lawyers were delighted, saying this was an admission rather than a denial, which meant we would have a much easier time in negotiations.  To me, this was NOT an admission, it is NOT the truth.  While I remember them talking about negotiated settlements, I did not realize that meant not getting justice.  I wanted it to be negotiated that he would no longer have a position of power over women.  But the part about me getting justice & preventing future victims was never discussed again.  As they fought over money, I felt like I was watching everything from outside my own body; powerful people taking away my voice.  They said: it doesn’t matter what he believes to be true, you know what is true and the only way to make men like him accountable, since they will never admit to wrongdoing, is to hit them where it hurts……financially.  I was tired and after a few days I agreed to let them “do what they did best….make me whole.”  You hear that phrase a lot when it comes to lawyers.  But no one really asks you what would make you whole, like maybe justice & taking away his ability to do this to someone else.   When I read the draft of the Settlement Agreement and got to the Confidentiality Clause, I told my lawyers I would not sign, I would rather take my chances with mediation, so he would be exposed publicly.  I could tell they were not happy but just like with the “consensual” language, they let me cool off for a day, and we met to discuss what mediation would look like.  They told me there was a possibility I would have to see him, and sit in the same room across a table from him, and feared I was not strong enough for that, even though they kept telling me how brave I was.  They also warned that the State laws regarding damages the company would have to pay would be far less (to me, and THEM); and even worse, my boss would not be responsible in any way.  To expose him, and hold him personally liable we would have to file a civil lawsuit including rape and assault, which could get very nasty.  They would have to determine how “winnable” a civil case would be, analyze cost etc…  I was scared they would not represent me.  While they said they would, they made it sound like it would be a difficult case to prove and win.   They did not understand why I was upset and said:  “why would you ever WANT to talk about this?”  I went to my therapist hoping someone would help be explain how this felt dirty and wrong, but she agreed with the lawyers saying “he needs to pay, and financially is the only way it can be done.”   I asked that we go to mediation, it was much more important to me that he be held to account for what he did.  His lawyers came back with a larger settlement amount, stating that he did not want this to go to mediation.  Although I wanted to keep fighting, my lawyers made me feel like I would be crazy not to end this.  They said phrases like:  you can just forget this, move on, begin a new life, start a new career, take a vacation.  To me, this sounded ludicrous to say to someone who has been raped & terrorized, but maybe I was being irrational.  It seemed like they were done fighting and the payout for them was more than they could ever get in mediation.  I felt obligated to them and that if I pressed on I would possibly lose support or look vengeful.  I signed.    I feel dirty for taking money to keep his crime secret.  I feel guilt that someone else will be his victim.  I feel shame that I lost my career at 44; I have been blackballed in my industry.  I can’t explain why I left at the top of my game.  I don’t feel comfortable in close work situations with male executives.  I can’t focus.  All of this makes employment at that level difficult if not impossible.  I keep track of him, so I know if I am in possible danger.  I agreed to hide a part of me that needs to be healed.  I am enraged that my life was stolen and he is FREE.  I live small because I feel I am not worth justice. I can’t speak my truth as so many others have been empowered to do during a world wide #metoo movement.  People often say I am confusing, secretive or weird. But I am a version of me that is unrecognizable, I am bought, like an acquisition.  I am not me.

Story 7

I mediated with a builder/ developer and the government warranty provider over building and construction defects in a new home.   First we were asked to sign confidentiality agreements sent by the mediator. I was without a lawyer, but had a friend come with us – however they were told to leave partway through. This felt unfair since it is not easy to understand the legal language and rules.  A big part of the problem is access to the legal system. I felt like the lawyers on the other side were just trading us in for a deal that they could collect their fee for. You end up getting bullied, and no one is going to tell you right from wrong.   My wife and I had had a very difficult and acrimonious time with the builder and really wanted a settlement to out this behind us. We got to the point that we would basically do anything to get out of this mess with these untouchable people who had all the money and resources on their side. It felt very unfair for us to be under such pressure.   In the end we signed an NDA in exchange for a small settlement. The NDA said we could not say anything about the existence or the terms of the agreement which meant we could do speak to anyone about the construction defects they compensated us (in a small way) for. We also promised not to make any negative or disparaging remarks about the builder, or to join in any legal action by anyone else against the builder.

Story 8

“Its all over” my husband wrote to our children after we had attended the one day Judicial Mediation at the Employment Tribunal in 2017. I’d taken legal action against my husband’s former employer, a prestigious school where we had worked, lived and raised our children for many years. I’d taken the school to court for detriment following whistleblowing after raising two concerns – believing the school would want to know – regarding exam cheating and gender pay inequality.  My actions led to a protracted period of victimisation and harassment and finally the end of our lives and careers within the school community. In an unusual case, my decision to whistleblow cost my husband his job despite his own unblemished record and his role as a pillar within the community. We were, when it suited the school inter-connected, a spouse should be seen and not heard, yet in my case, my unwelcome disclosures were a threat to the schools reputation and that meant we all had to go. Of course, it was not ‘all over’, it was only just the beginning of a process that has seen us try to re-build our lives and make sense of the injustice. The mediation was a chaotic affair with the respondents arriving 2.5 hours late, with their solicitor, all of whom had masterminded the protracted period of victimisation. I had been advised by my solicitor, to settle as it would cost me at least £20,000 to proceed to court and the school had already described the army of witnesses they would be reeling out some 12 months hence – cases are notoriously slow to come to court.  She advised how hard it was to prove detriment following whistleblowing. This was particularly apt in my case as the real detriment – the loss of my husband’s long career was off limits as evidence, as my husband had already been forced to accept a settlement and sign his own NDA. The judge spent the few hours of the Mediation remaining, moving between two rooms whilst we deliberated a settlement. I had no idea what was being said about me and the judge had minimal time to try and understand the extraordinary complex case that was presented to him. No notes were kept of my case by either side or the judge. Finally just as we reached the time limit for the mediation, we agreed a settlement sum. There was real pressure to reach an agreement as to not have done so would have led to more costs and more uncertainty. As an after thought it was mentioned that I would have to sign, settle and cease to talk about the case ever again. As we walked from the room, my solicitor told me that in order to save costs she’d let the school produce the agreement. I did not doubt her for a minute. Within a few days the draft agreement came through – written entirely by the respondent’s solicitor, an Employment Lawyer who is also a governor at a local prestigious school. My solicitor simply sent it onto me asking for my comments, yet gave me no advice or views of her own on the myriad of clauses within it. I had little knowledge of the implications of this agreement, but this was my NDA – non disclosure agreement. In return for a financial sum, I was to be silenced. The agreement made no mention of the nature of the case brought against the school – it was written in such a way as to portray me as a vexatious individual who had contacted multiple organisations and regulatory bodies, and therefore presented a threat to this irreproachable institution. In various clauses, which are now being investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (for two years and counting) I was barred from contacting any regulatory authority or making any complaint about the school now or at any time in the future. The SRA have indicated that these terms are inappropriate and do not conform to their guidelines, but have advised in a strange twist – considering they are a legal organisation – that they do not have the jurisdiction to make a judgment on whether the NDA is legal or not. They have advised that I would need to take further legal advice to establish that. Crucially the NDA stated that the school accepted no liability. At the time, I did not consider the significance, feeling a certain sense of satisfaction that I had brought a successful case and the school had decided to settle. Yet of course, the amount they paid me was small fry – even more so as during the mediation the school insisted that they were not allowed to pay out any more. Yet they had bought my silence and at the same time, made clear that they did not accept there was an iota of truth in any of my claims. The lack of description of my case within the NDA, was also significant from a tax angle – victimisation, discrimination and harassment cases are treated as tax exempt by HMRC (the government tax office), yet without the NDA stating that this was the nature of my claim, I was taxed at the highest rate on the settlement. A fact that I was alerted to by my accountant, which then led to a traumatic appeal process via the HMRC, which was successful. It is clear that the HMRC are making a killing on this grey area  – the Employment Tribunal and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service appear completely unaware of the tax implications of settlements of this nature and the HMRC appear deliberately obtuse on the subject. I wonder why. At the age of around 50 a successful and happy life lay in tatters. I now suffer with PTSD which is common amongst whistleblowers and those who have been cornered by the system, into signing a settlement agreement. I have recently experienced a debilitating period of associated depression. After four years the reality bites – my husband has been unable to find equitable employment in the sector he worked in for some 20 years. Naively, ourselves, friends and family were full of hope that the settlement and NDA could draw a line and we could move on, move on to similar successful careers and that the trauma of our departure from the school and community we loved, would fade. Yet this is far from the case – the trauma simply transfers to within, when before you could talk freely, once the NDA was signed, to talk about is seems dirty and you live in fear of retribution when inevitably the injustice of the situation begins to gnaw. NDA’s are legalised bribery in the 21st century, that in itself is immoral yet the true impact is not openly acknowledged and it must be – that the mis-use of NDA’s is undermining our entire legal system. Centuries of progress in Employment Law can simply be ignored by an employer, their HR team and their lawyers, safe in the knowledge that they can do what the hell they like to an employee they no longer value, because at the end of the process, a wadge of cash and an NDA will buy the victim’s silence.

Story 9

For several years I watched my former employer blatantly breaking the law in various ways, while I was naively wondering how they were going to get away with it. Obviously, I didn’t know much about NDAs back then. All my former colleagues I spoke to left with NDAs.    After many years of begging my former employer to bring my pay in line with my male colleagues I finally made my formal request. Intimidation and harassment started straight away and never stopped. I instigated a grievance and I was effectively forced in to sick leave whilst my case was assessed.   I then started legal proceedings on limited funds. I looked for help everywhere, but none was forthcoming. At the same time my employer was enjoying unlimited resources in their actions against me.   Two years later I was financially broke and without any legal representation. During this time and because of the case I became disabled by severe anxiety and further serious health conditions as a result of prolonged severe stress. I could no longer cope and any further episode of my health condition could end my life. I had to settle to literally stay alive.   Looking at my settlement agreement now I see no settlement agreement, but only one giant NDA with a settlement clause in it.    My employer paid for a lawyer to check the settlement agreement on my behalf. The lawyer straight away said that the fee was limiting the scope of work only to checking the legality of the wording, but not the settlement terms and payments, as that would entail a review of the whole legal case. I had to negotiate settlement terms myself.   I was “negotiating” whilst lying in my sick bed and trying not to die from intimidation of the process. I was also put under time pressure. In total it was just few days, but on some of the points I had to agree within hours. All this was under so called “privileged communication”, so nobody will ever know.   My lawyer warned me that I had to confirm that I was happy with the terms of the settlement agreement otherwise it would not go ahead. Could I be happy with something that was imposed on me just because I was too weak to fight? I just wanted for the pain to stop. I had to say yes.    My lawyer did not make a single change to the settlement agreement drafted by my former employer. My lawyer had to be there only to make the agreement valid.   I will never stop questioning how such a process of signing an agreement is deemed to be legal.   The immediate relief of not being constantly intimidated was very short lived. I had to start looking for a job as soon as I could. My CV was strong and several times I made to the final interviews out of hundreds of candidates. When asked about the reasons for leaving my previous employment I had to say the words allowed by the NDA. These words could never satisfy any of my prospective employers and they continued questioning. I did not know how to answer and I could not stop questions by mentioning my NDA, as my NDA prevented me from doing so.  It was very awkward and stressful. I felt it always was a turning point in my interviews. In few months nobody was calling me back anymore.   I was temporarily boosted by hope of going back to work and rebuilding my life, but then my mental health started to decline again. I had to ask NHS for support. The therapist gave me 24 sessions over above what is available on the NHS through a further 21 sessions of PTSD treatment. Every time I spoke to doctors I had to say that I had an NDA and asked for confidentiality and not to take recordings or notes.     My heart leapt when I heard that the Government was running a consultation regarding NDAs in discrimination cases. I straight away applied to take part. I now wish I hadn’t.   Preparing my evidence took a lot out of me, and then I was so taken aback to find out that the round tables were arranged only for lawyers and employers. The employees’ round table was arranged only as an afterthought of our enquiries. At the round table we were told that all changes regarding NDAs had been already worked out, but we could certainly say our thoughts. Several of us cried while telling our stories, but none of what we said was taken into consideration.   In the consultation materials I saw an NDA that was signed more than 20 years ago. Nothing has changed in 20 years, and, yet again lawyers and employers, i.e. the vested interested parties, ruled the “changes” in the discrimination cases NDAs. I felt employees were there so the Government could tick the box that we were included. I felt used.   The consultation also did not bother in responding to our enquiries on how the existing NDAs should be checked for compliance if none of us could afford lawyers’ fees. Our NDA gags were pushed further down our throats. I have been recently checking the pay gap reporting. As shocking as the figures reported by my former employer are I know the real figures are worse, but who is checking? There must be other women who raised their pay concerns with my former employer, but we are being shot down one by one and we will never find each other as we are all silenced by NDAs. Pay gap will stay as long as NDAs are allowed.   I often hear that discrimination and harassment NDAs are not enforceable, and they are used just as a threat. If I think rationally I do believe that my former employer will never dare putting my settlement agreement in front of a judge. However, somehow, after what I have been through I am still very afraid. 

Story 10

My daughter was effectively sacked because she had a pregnancy. It was a tiny firm and she was one of three partners. They broke the law. She sued them. She won a substantial payout but she is forbidden to talk about it. At a time when she’d just had a baby she lost a great job and was put under terrible stress. She has never disclosed anything to me, her own mother. It’s despicable that these bad employers can hide their bad work practices with an NDA.

Story 11

I signed my NDA in complete distress after 12 months of bullying from the head of the team – a woman who didn’t want me but couldn’t stop it as it was the outcome of a merger between two separate organisations. In the 18 months prior to the merger I had no idea something negative would come of it but when I look back it had started from my first day. I felt it but didn’t tell anyone. She would undermine me, not give me work, not include me, the usual things. I came close to a breakdown. I told a colleague who I had known in the previous organisation who kept telling me to leave but I couldn’t. The head of the team hired someone new to get rid of me. He was obnoxious to me. I challenged it through HR but I was treated with such disdain for no reason.   It came to a head when she brought her child into the office. For some reason I completely crumpled and could barely walk as I tried to get up and walk past them. I have never felt that way before. A couple of days later I was asked to attend a meeting with my new manager and HR . My manager read out 25 charges… it was just utter nonsense. But I had booked annual leave immediately after the meeting so had time to think about what to do. I returned asking for an NDA.   HR said yes and the conversation lasted 20 seconds. It makes me so angry and unhappy because like a lot of the people I worked with but had to leave without telling anyone. I was put on out of office duties for a month and then everyone was told I had left. There was little negotiation. I felt like I had no power as they were trying to force a warning or some other disciplinary action on me.   At that moment I felt relief but I then didn’t work for a year as I had depression. The Head of team has since been promoted twice. That was 10 years ago and I haven’t been able to tell anyone. Would I have done it differently? Not sure. I should have left for my mental health. I got £18K .   Someone that worked there is in my (recreational) club and it is a matter of time before we bump into each other and have a conversation. But can I tell her?   The silencing of people is just wrong.

Story 12

I am a male. I worked for a large uk retailer and was required to apply for my own job after a so called job review. I did not get that job after at least 15 years of high performing and visible results . I was told the other candidate was better. The other candidate had no knowledge skills or experience in this role but was a female. I decided to take demotion and stay in the department Within months this former colleague started a campaign of undermining and bullying to the extent of withholding a £10,000 bonus that I was entitled to . When I raised this I was offered redundancy linked to an NDA . By this time I had no resilience left to fight an investigation nor a tribunal so accepted.  This happened in 2000 and I have not spoken about it since.

Story 13

After seeing your campaign against the abuse of Non-Disclosure Agreements, I felt compelled to put pen to paper and say #MeToo.   The truth is my life is completely upside down right now and I’m finding it hard to see a way forward. Money, although it doesn’t buy happiness, makes life miserable if you’re struggling to make ends meet, which currently I am.   I have worked my whole life, most recently for a prestigious financial company in London. I spent over a decade giving my all and now I ask myself, what for?   The first 6 years was a great experience, I was happy in my role, loved the team I worked with, felt valued, involved, confident, I had a great relationship with colleagues, then there was a change of management.   It’s not easy to discuss being bullied as an adult, because it feels like there will be an assumption that you’re weak of character or too sensitive, or worse over sensitive. I can tell you now, this is not the case.   Ignore it, rise above it, bury yourself in work, stand your ground, stand up for yourself, just get on with it, I did all that, except slowly over time chip by chip, the damage was done.   Report it? who to when management is involved? Individual instances can seem small, petty, it would be their word against mine and they hold the senior position.   Despite great appraisals, yearly bonuses, meeting or exceeding all expectations I was belittled, laughed at, excluded, parts of my role were given away. I was made to feel small, insignificant, an annoyance. I was teased, chastised, talked down to, it was hell to be honest.   Why not leave? I wanted to but by now I was terrified of going somewhere else and experiencing the same or worse. I had lost all belief in myself, in my abilities, I felt broken. I dreaded, every single day.   I decided the only option was to go in, put my head down and get on with it and try and ignore them, so that’s what I did, until it started to affect me physically. After several tests, I was diagnosed with stress and signed off work.   I stood my ground when contacted by the company, I made it clear this was stress from bullying, not stress from my workload.   After a few months I was offered a settlement agreement. It was presented as though it was the best option all round. It was awful, I didn’t want to lose my job, but I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.   Stay and experience more of the same to the detriment of my emotional and physical health – or leave with enough money to pay the bills for a while and find something else.   I had no support through this process, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t realise the impact it would have on me further down the line signing away my rights to discuss the abuse I had experienced.   I felt like I had no option but to leave, I just wanted to put this horrendous chapter of my life behind me, so I signed the NDA. I updated my CV and began searching for new roles. Unfortunately, just reading job descriptions would leave me in total panic and floods of tears. A number of months later my money was running out and I was still unemployed. As much as I hated the idea, I knew I had to get some financial help, but this meant going to the job centre. There should be no shame in being unemployed, but we all know once you walk through those doors you are put in a box. Regardless if you have worked your whole life, there’s a judgement, an assumption about you and you’re suddenly treated like a second-class citizen. The thought was unbearable to me, even more so because legally I am not allowed to explain to them why I am so traumatised.   I was crying all the time, I wasn’t sleeping, I just felt completely desperate, there was nowhere to turn. I felt in such a state and legally I couldn’t talk about it to anyone.   It was at this point I started having suicidal thoughts. After hearing others had reported bullying and several of the management team had been sacked, I contacted the company. I told them I was still traumatised by the bullying I had experienced and explained my current situation.   I said I was reaching out to explain how it was affecting me not being able to discuss what I have been through. I told them I’d been having suicidal thoughts and said I needed to be able to speak to friends, a counsellor, my GP and also try and get some financial help.   My reply was in the form of a solicitors letter which stated that if I spoke to anyone I would be in breach of my NDA and they would come after me with full force, for monies I no longer had.   I am writing to you now because something has to be done, action has to be taken and I feel it is only right I add my voice to this appeal for justice.   How is it acceptable that I and others like me, hard-working law-abiding citizens can be treated like this?   I am absolutely terrified for my future, I had a job that paid well above the average UK salary, a job I would still be at had I not been bullied out of it. I used to be a bubbly person with a real zest for life, an adventurer, someone who loved to travel, someone who was the first to laugh at themselves.   I am now currently 2 years unemployed, in financial difficulty, terrified of people in authority, because in my experience no matter how much you stand up to these people you are still powerless.   I have lost all zest for life, I am anxious, I am depressed, I feel hopeless. I have lost thousands in income from a job I no longer have. I feel I am still being bullied and threatened because of the non-disclosure agreement that is around my neck. I am sending this anonymously, not because I am too scared to stand up for myself but because I’m scared of the financial repercussions.

Story 14

I returned to my job as a team head at a financial company having had 4 months maternity leave after the birth of my son. On my first day back, my boss told me I’d come back too early, and that I would be unable to concentrate due to the fact I was still breastfeeding. He demoted me, removing all my management responsibilities.   I saw lawyers the following week and lodged a grievance which was dismissed, and then a second grievance was also dismissed. By this point my son was 6 months old.   During the period of 5 months I was back at work until my employment was terminated, I had to sit alongside my boss who was visibly angry and frustrated by my presence. During this period I was prescribed antidepressants and CBT.   Finally when my boss was on holiday, we had mediation which lasted a full day. It was agreed that I would be paid a severance payment in exchange for signing an agreement which included non-disclosure wording.   The net effect was that I was unemployed and, whilst I was financially compensated, I was unable to explain to future employers why I had left that employment and why it wasn’t my choice to do so. I felt I was the party in the right and yet I was the one who had the uncertainty and stress of being unemployed and having to job hunt with a 9 month old baby. NDAs are a way or companies and people avoiding being held accountable.

Story 15

I signed an NDA for early settlement at a UK University in 2018 after experiencing disability and gender discrimination, in addition to bullying. They suspended me for making a formal complaint and kept me on suspension with no review/progress until I terminated my contract and signed the NDA. I broke the NDA via social media and protected disclosures. They have attacked me via various legal threats that included extensive lies. They put themselves in a legally vulnerable position by doing this, so they employed a third party to attack me legally in 2020 (one that I had made protected disclosures to and hadn’t realised at the time was a business partner of the University). They made false allegations to the police about me (evidenced), used the police to harass me (evidenced), and I am now taking them all to court as a litigant-in-person as I have no legal funds. I now have testimonies from others treated similarly, and they know I’m probably going to go public after the legal action with mine and everyone else’s stories. They are entirely vicious in their attacks, and I believe I will have to move out of the UK once the legal action is complete. NDAs are covering a lot of lawbreaking and power abuse. I am happy to speak out about that and have no fear of these people. They have tried every trick in the book to shut me down, but I have simply become louder. They now have to answer to that in court.

Story 16

I’ve been a police officer for more than 10 years. I reported sexual harassment and discrimination over the years to my employer and was told over and over again to “not be that girl”. Several years ago, I went off sick and was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression by several Drs. I filed a human rights complaint and my union refused to help, forcing me to sell my home to pay for lawyers. All the men I complained about, and provided evidence of their abuse, go free.   Myself and other colleagues hired a lawyer and 6 months later we walked into mediation. Our own lawyer was nasty and abusive for 2 days telling us “nobody cares about women in policing”.   My colleagues and myself were offered continued base salary for several years, an upfront payment and a NDA. We were told that we can never work in policing or talk about what happened to anyone or we would be sued. My colleagues were exhausted and took the offer but I refused to resign with no investigation into the sexual violence I reported. My lawyer then gave me a bill for several hundred thousand dollars and within 2 weeks was demanding his money. I had to hire another lawyer and took him to court!   He kept emailing me threatening to sue me and shaming me, knowing how my mental health was deteriorating. I was successful and the bill got reduced significantly but the judge is making me pay the lawyer’s legal fees.   My employer tried to silence me again recently at mediation. They offered me more money upfront with the NDA but again refused to investigate the sexual violence I endured and so I refused.   I’m being retaliated against now with bogus investigations and I’m facing reprisals. My union is dodging my human rights lawyer emails and I’m fighting alone.

Story 17

I signed an NDA a few years ago after more than a year’s bullying by two managers at a university. I worked as an acting manager of a department for no extra pay and, when I resisted a departmental re-structuring on the grounds that it would lead to unfair redundancies, I was targeted by the senior manager who then recruited a new departmental manager in my place. I was not shortlisted for the management post despite having been acting manager for the previous year and deputy manager before that. I was excluded from meetings and told I could not return to my former role but would have to accept a different full-time role for lower pay and with increased responsibility. I was targeted by the new departmental manager with daily meetings and emails pressurising me to accept the new role. He openly said the senior manager was pushing for me to accept the role. I was told I would not get flexible working despite having a young child. My job title was changed without consultation and there was no re-negotiation of my contract. I eventually went off sick with stress for several months.   I accepted an NDA when the university said they could not see how I could reasonably return to work despite an occupational health report identifying my manager as the source of my stress.   Six months after I accepted the NDA, both managers were removed from their posts. There had been numerous previous accusations of bullying against the senior manager prior to my own difficulties and there was a high turnover of female staff under her management.   My NDA allowed the university to deny any complicity in the bullying and any prior knowledge that the senior manager was problematic. They avoided paying me appropriate compensation as they avoided any liability. I have never acknowledged the veracity of the NDA and, while I do not talk about it on social media, I have told other people about the circumstances that led to me leaving my job.   The process of negotiating the NDA was very one sided and stressful. I was given a short timescale to comply and told the university would not negotiate the offer.   I felt so stressed by going in to work that I was desperate to leave the situation and accepted the NDA as the quickest way out. The decision had serious financial implications for me and my family and, more than 5 years later, I am still not on a commensurate pay scale. I feel very bitter that the university showed little or no care for me as an employee and were aware that the senior manager was a bully but would not acknowledge it.

Story 18

I had spoken up in my workplace about sexual assault and harassment. I disclosed my personal experiences involving the same workplace and was guided to report to police. This entire experience triggered my PTSD and I asked for a lightened schedule. I was passed to HR and explained that I cannot lose my job but I needed time and support while dealing with all of this.   I was handed an NDA and termination papers the day after my GM confirmed I would not be fired. I was given one week to sign. I had a full on mental breakdown and was admitted to emergency with suicidal ideation. From this day I have lived paycheque to paycheque barely able to make ends meet. I have never been able to re enter that same industry which has limited me financially. I have never been able to find adequate support and have struggled with my mental health on a regular basis.   I regret signing the NDA but I had no financial support and minimal savings at the time, which my GM and HR team were well aware of. I had also disclosed my mental health status and diagnosis of PTSD. I would have lost my housing and ability to pay bills within a few weeks and was being fired without notice. I felt trapped and would characterize my signing as under duress.

Story 19

Signing an NDA with a large UK employer was the most isolating and difficult experience I’ve ever been through. It affects me to this day. At the time of signing, I was so distraught and so desperate to find a way out of a difficult situation that I’d no real understanding of how much the agreement itself would affect my confidence long term or how it would sever my contact with a community of colleagues I’d known for years.   My NDA relates to maternity discrimination and workplace bullying. I knew that, when I returned from maternity leave, I was going to face aggression from a manager. I’d seen it with other colleagues  and there were so many comments during my own leave that the anger about my taking “time off” was abundantly clear, to the point that I almost considered resigning before the end of my maternity leave. But I knew it would be hard to find another post while my child was only a few months old, so I came back to work.   I was put through absolute hell for nearly a year. It’s hard to detail every incident, but this included having my office taken away, being consistently asked to stay later than my colleagues when this made nursery pick ups impossible, being asked to take on responsibilities far above my position without training and then being reprimanded if I made even the slightest mistake. When I explicitly queried why these things were happening and whether my manager was trying to get rid of me, I was treated as though I was crazy and had some kind of persecution complex -that this was just part of the job and I was being overly sensitive. After six months, by which time I’d been notified that I was going to be put through a redundancy consultation for my post, at the same point that the section was also recruiting for other posts, I knew that there was no hope of my continuing. I lost the will to fight any further. My mental health from living under constant stress at work had deteriorated to such an extent that I was barely able to care for myself, let alone my child. I was absolutely exhausted and just desperate for it all to stop.   After several months of the redundancy consultation, I agreed a settlement. I was given 48 hours to review and sign it. The confidentiality clauses were treated as a routine part of that settlement by all sides. Even my lawyer, who in fact negotiated some of the other clauses in the agreement, never suggested that the confidentiality might be negotiable. In fact, the lawyer’s advice was actually to cut me off, mid account, and simply to advise “Sign it, you probably won’t get more at tribunal”. There was no interest in the particulars of my case – why would there be when the mandatory legal fee included with such agreements is so tiny. It was as though the only options were to sign this agreement or go to a tribunal, which there was absolutely no way I could face. By this point, I’d also lost contact with those I considered friends at work. In fact, I later discovered that some had been specifically asked not to contact me. In all that isolation, and in that 48 hours, I could see no other way out than this settlement agreement and the day it went through, for the first time in months, I was almost happy. In hindsight, the long term ramifications were to perpetuate the feelings of isolation because I could never tell any of my former colleagues and friends what had happened. I also felt so ashamed that I hadn’t been able to fight harder for my job and that I’d let such an employer do something so flagrantly wrong.   I found another job very quickly but I’ve had nothing like the same level of confidence at work since that awful time. I am constantly nervous of something going wrong at work and I try never to talk to any colleagues about having a child. I’ve yet to see an account where an employee felt empowered or protected by an NDA of this kind (as seems sometimes to be claimed). As far as I can see, they work only to silence victims, many of whom have been through much worse than me, and all the benefits are to the employer. It’s time that they stopped. There is no point in having laws to protect the rights of employees if they can continue simply be routinely bypassed though NDAs.

Story 20

I threw myself under the bus to help someone for over four years. A group instructed an assistant to tamper with this person’s expenses receipt to make it look like they had committed fraud. I did a whistle blow and was then falsely accused of bullying, so I left. They never got an NDA on me.   However, I did manage to help another person with their sex discrimination case where they refused to sign an NDA. Soon after their case, the company settled with the person I initially supported (and was still supporting) and made them sign an NDA. Part of it agreed to give them clean references, which they were entitled to as they had not done anything wrong.   Every single person who did wrong in both cases has kept their job. Unfortunately, the person I mentioned now has a changed personality because they cannot talk openly, resulting in their spouse’s death.   They try to move forward, and every time we’ve spoken since, it’s clear they wants to tell me but can’t. It’s awful for them because they know I know what they went through. The NDA has stopped their healing process. It’s even affected their kids. All so this company can cover up their failures and bad staff. So much so that I know of two others they’ve done this to. It’s a common and lousy practice within the company and industry.  

Story 21

I was working in a privately owned company as a senior lawyer.  I went on maternity leave with my first child and keep in contact with my line manager with regular keep in touch days.  On my return, the staff that had been reporting to me had been reassigned to a colleague with no explanation.   I requested to work from home one day a week in order to spend more time with my son, who was not yet a year old.  My line manager informally approved the request but when the CEO of the company heard of this, he complained as he felt it would “set the wrong tone” for the company and my request was denied.  When I met the general counsel to discuss this, he told me that the company “broke laws all the time, so it had no problem breaking employment law too” and advised me that I was better off “being a stay at home mother”, as his wife had done.  He also said that, given that I was not a man or the right nationality, I had no future in the company anyway.    A few months later I was told my role would be moving to a new location and that, given the whole working from home fiasco, there was no opportunity for me to stay in London where the rest of my team were located.  At that time I was pregnant with my second child and was finding the hostile work environment unbearable.  I signed an NDA (or settlement agreement), in which I agreed to remain silent in return for a payout and left the company.

Story 22

At the age of twenty-four, in a state of suicidal despair, my daughter told me she had been sexually assaulted by her father, my ex-husband, as a child. When my daughter told me of her father’s assaults, my immediate reaction was to go to the police and press criminal charges. However, my intention to press charges was chastised and shamed by family members and friends and met with overwhelming despair from my daughter.   Later, when my daughter was thirty years old, and after intensive therapy, she started to seek justice in the provincial courts. Her lawyer said her case, “sexually assaulted by her father as a child and as an adult”, would never go to criminal court due to lack of evidence. The lawyer recommended that my daughter pursue a charge through civil court. During that civil case in 1997, my daughter was forced to sign a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) in exchange for a cash settlement.   As a result of the civil case and the signing of the NDA, my daughter has never been able to own or speak of her own trauma, a fact that continues to affect her life to the present day.   In 2015, my daughter’s father died. My daughter was completely omitted from her father’s obituary and the will and estate. My daughter petitioned the courts, and the executor of her father’s estate, her brother, and my youngest son, to have the NDA released. My daughter was denied by the Justice on the bench, citing ‘lack of evidence of psychological harm caused by the NDA._’.   Today, legal mechanisms and loopholes such as NDAs and Alter Ego Trusts continue to traumatize my daughter, as well as too many other daughters, sons, wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, families, communities, directly or indirectly. But my efforts to campaign for change regarding the use of NDAs in the case of the sexual assault of children and adults, and the closure of legal-loop holes such as the Alter Ego Trust have mostly gone unattended.   Over an eighteen month period, I have committed to relentless advocacy including pleading to Canada’s parliament, the Senate, and Canada’s Standing Committee for the Status of Women members, and every representative in my province’s legislative assembly. For every hundred letters I sent, I received a single response. The following are the responses I received from a member of the Senate and a provincial Cabinet Minister:   “FROM A MEMBER OF THE SENATE   I “support all reasonable measures the government brings forward to support victims of criminal acts, especially victims of sexual assault’.   FROM A CABINET MINISTER IN MY PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT   ‘there are complex legal and policy issues that need to be addressed to ensure that a ban on the use of non-disclosure agreements would achieve intended objectives. Ministry staff continue to monitor other jurisdictions .” In July 2021, I learned that a member of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island, Lynne Lund, intends to put forward legislation banning the misuse of NDAs in September 2021. My local federal candidate has indicated that, if elected, she will bring the matter to Parliament. I hope that this is the beginning of the end of the misuse of NDAs, and that my daughter can someday receive some form of justice for her trauma and the silencing of her voice.”

Story 23

My story begins when I went to work for a parish in the Church of England which required some of its staff to raise all the funds for their own salary.   My fundraising task was harder because I worked for a smaller part of the church which had separate accounts and different accounting staff.   The accounts were very badly managed, so I was often given wrong information about my financial position.   The mistakes led the church to think I was falling very short of my fundraising targets. On one occasion I was told my deficit was so large that I might need to be dismissed the following week.   Thankfully after a very stressful week it was discovered that my deficit had only been 355 pounds. So I wasn’t summarily dismissed.   When my contract was up for renewal, I had to go through a painful process of showing that my work could still contribute to the parish’s strategic direction. As part of that long process, I had a meeting where one senior church leader spoke to me in quite a harsh and mocking manner. Afterwards I received a text message from the person who had organised the meeting, apologising that it had been ‘a bit intense’. But I think that significantly understated how harshly the other person had spoken to me.   After the meeting I decided to submit a formal grievance about all of the above problems, and some others that I haven’t mentioned here. About a month later I was offered about a third of my annual salary on condition that I resign from the church and sign a very strict non-disclosure agreement.   Before deciding on the settlement, I asked if the church could apologise for at least some of what had happened, and also answer some specific questions that were troubling me.   However the church replied with an apology which seemed carefully drafted to minimise any liability if I refused the settlement and later decided to bring a legal action. So the apology was quite general, and I found it hard to know how much of my grievance the church actually thought was justified.   Without a proper apology, I didn’t think I could honestly promise never to speak to anyone ever again about any of the problems. So I decided not to accept the money, but just to resign my employment.   Because so much of my grievance concerned things which had been said to me in emails (or in the text message I mentioned above), I felt I had very strong grounds to claim constructive dismissal in the Employment Tribunal. But I decided against doing that. And so after my final payday I never received any more money from the church.

Story 24

I was asked to sign an NDA to prevent me speaking about the circumstances that led to the end of my career.  A student was sexually assaulted, and for reasons unknown, I was victimised for supporting her. This resulted in my being bullied and harassed to the point that it affected my health. In the end, I was left with no choice but to seek legal advice.    Lawyers contacted my employer asking them to cease and desist this behaviour.  They did not however.  This resulted in a protracted process where my employer decided that I could no longer work there.  I was given a very short period of notice.  I was offered a small severance package, but on the condition that I signed an NDA.  For me, the signing of an NDA was non negotiable, it was something I was not willing to do.  The stakes were high in that my employer continually refused to make a payout without my signing the NDA.  After continued refusal on my part, they then stipulated that they would make the payout if I agreed to show them anything I was going to publish about the case, before it went public. I refused this too.    The deadline for submitting a claim to an employment tribunal was at midday on a given date.  At 11.50am, maybe realising that I was willing to go to court, and therefore this would be a matter of public record, my former employer settled.   Refusing to sign the NDA was incredibly hard, especially given other pressures.  However, I do not regret it for a minute.   The proudest day of my previous career was seeing the story of what had happened in the national media.  The story wasn’t just about me, it was about ALL the women that this man had harassed, it was about everyone’s daughter, or sister or wife or girlfriend, who would not be protected by my former employer. It was about safe spaces for women, and the right of women to be in those spaces.  Je ne regrette rien.

Story 25

I’m a former assistant professor. I was forced from my job by a tenured colleague with close personal ties to the vice president of my college in response to complaints I had made to colleagues and Human Resources about this colleague’s attempts to sabotage my career as well as the career of another junior colleague.   I believe he was motivated by simple jealousy and malignant spite. When I requested permission to leave the college with the equipment I had purchased for my laboratory on start-up funds allotted to me by my employment contract, I was offered a single microscope and told I would need to sign an NDA in exchange. I declined.   Non-renewal of my position was unjust, capricious, and in violation of my employment contract. I was threatened with the blackballing of my career if I even appealed the decision, as was my right. So I applied to another school, and received a 75% merit scholarship for all 3 years. It’s the only way I could think of to make myself safe from future harm. My college has caused irreparable harm to my career. The one thing they couldn’t take from me without my permission was my voice. I intend to share my story, in hopes that other lives will be spared from ruin by petty individuals who seek personal vengeance at the expense of another person’s livelihood, health, home, and promise. It took one person 18 months to destroy a career that it took me 25 dedicated years to build. For nothing. That is not democracy. That is tyranny.

Story 26

After I was brutally assaulted by a partner at a large accounting business, the firm tried several times to coerce and trick me into signing an NDA. I’ve refused every time. It does mean I am free to talk about my experience when I want to, however the perpetrator is still protected. His lawyer has threatened to retaliate against me if I name him in public. How he would retaliate, I don’t know, but the threat was made very clear.

Story 27

I worked for a government agency where I was subjected to mobbing and victimisation by management. This resulted in extreme depression and my contract not being renewed. I reported my injury. I was approached to settle just before the hearing, almost 12 months later.   Eventually just days before the hearing date we agreed to terms. Only after the hearing was vacated did the final paperwork come through in which an NDA was included. Initially my lawyer sent the form back with the NDA sections removed. No NDA was mentioned in the previous settlement negotiations, which were “WITHOUT PREJUDICE.” The agency refused to remove the NDA. After much sole searching, with my health deteriorating, money getting short,  and knowing that if the hearing were to be rescheduled, it would be months away, I decided to sign.   The Psychiatric evaluation, which my employer requested and which took place just before the scheduled hearing date, raised the impact that this was having on my health. The NDA was so broad that I couldn’t criticize anyone that had ever worked for the department or the department itself. This would mean I couldn’t do my job. My employer refused to limit the clauses to only matters surrounding my employment but came back with something that meant I could at least do my job.   I did not want to sign this, but my health was getting worse, my psychologist raised his concern, and I was spent.  So I signed so I could live another day, but it was not consensual. It was necessary because my employee had near infinite resources. They had all the power. The benefit of social support networks on recovery from trauma and abuse is well known. I have spoken to researchers about what studies have been conducted looking into the negative health impacts of NDAs. I have been told that they are not aware of any papers but that my hypothesis seems sound. To me it is unbelievable that this practice is allowed. It is well reported that suicides are higher for people who have experienced workplace bullying. If it was a drug, it would not be allowed, let alone be prescribed to an injured patient, so why can employers and lawyers wield this power? Where is their ethical responsibility?

Story 28

 I have worked in the Canadian federal public service for over 20 years. For all of my career, I saw white colleagues getting privileges that I was never offered but kept telling myself that they must be somehow more deserving. Then, in December 2017, some Black employees founded the Federal Black Employees Caucus (FBEC).   At FBEC meetings I learned I wasn’t alone. Almost every Black federal public servant had stories about discrimination similar to what I had seen throughout my career.   Joining FBEC gave me the strength to do what I had never done: ask my white managers about their discriminatory behaviour. Following the first time I did this, my managers launched a series of sanctions of increasing severity over a two year period. In response, I filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and, when my complaint was about to go public, my managers approached me with a deal. They agreed to pay me 1000s of dollars in exchange for dropping my CHRC complaint and signing an agreement saying I wouldn’t speak about my experience. I dropped my complaints…but it didn’t feel right. I was being paid to be silent. They were putting a price on what I had suffered and they were avoiding taking any responsibility that would protect other Black federal employees from discrimination. Those agreements are immoral and they need to stop.

Story 29

Since 2018 I have signed 2 NDA’s after experiencing bullying and disability discrimination in 2 different workplaces.   Workplace One:   The first there was a toxic culture and bullying seemed acceptable, when I started suffering with mental health problems because of the bullying due to my physical health problem it got worse and I was deemed a danger to my colleagues because my managers behaviour towards me caused me to feel suicidal. When I raised a grievance HR instantly offered me a settlement agreement, this dragged on for 3 months which cause my mental health to get worse and worse by the time the agreement was put in front of me I was ready to sign anything. I wasn’t allowed to change the agreement and it basically shut down the investigation and meant I had to leave with a gagging clause. I had 10 days to process, take advice and get back to them. I left the business as agreed 14 days after that signature.   Workplace Two:    I started another role in a different company, my second since signing the NDA, and instantly I knew my manager was a bully and I couldn’t reveal my physical or mental health problems. As they came out over a 12 month period my manager got worse until after 23 months he served me with compulsory redundancy. I had been too scared to report the bullying due to fear of losing my job so now I had nothing to lose –  I did report it as I had kept very detailed records. This time the grievance was pretty much ignored and they continued with the redundancy which would require a settlement agreement for a measly £3k I stuck to my guns and insisted on compulsory redundancy.   As it got closer to my supposed end date I started to be mobbed and a better settlement was offered with a strong NDA. They played my mental health until I was a complete mess again and gave me 48 hours to get advice and return the settlement agreement.   I had no idea what I was doing by the end of it I was so heavily medicated I have no recollection of the legal advice I was given apart from the solictor saying something along the lines of ‘2 agreements in 2 years, nice, not many get that chance’ and hating him for it.   Thankfully I got help [after this time during the COVID-19 pandemic] and was under a crisis team. It took 3 months before I could even consider looking for work. I took the first thing I could as money was running out, but I finally landed a dream job 6 months after signing the settlement agreement. I have been extremely open about what has happened in the past and my health and feel a lot more secure and settled at this workplace. But, I am always on heightened awareness of something going bad at any time. I am on anti-depressants for life now and I feel my mood is never quite what it was pre bullying and discrimination.

Story 30

I had been a Registered Nurse for 26 years when I was forced out of the profession I love despite the fact that there had never been any formal complaints made against me by any patient or family member.  The quality of the care I provided to thousands of Canadians over the course of an exemplary career had never been questioned, and I had no disciplinary history.    My mistake was filing a harassment complaint in a known toxic workplace.  Another target – “Valerie” – had been interviewed for Canadian Nurse Magazine regarding the conditions in a similar workplace just the year before:   My complaint was not investigated in keeping with policy and procedure, and when it was dismissed, the reprisals began.  After months of inaction by the employer and union, I took medical leave.  When I attempted to return to work, I learned that within days of my departure, the respondents to my harassment complaints filed complaints against me within a day of each other.  I filed a complaint regarding the reprisals that was never investigated.  I also informed the Ombudsman and Workplace Safety and Health, both of whom failed to act, deferring instead to the labour process.    I was summoned to a meeting with HR which my union rep attended with me at which I was told I was being terminated despite repeated assurances prior to the meeting that I wouldn’t lose my job.  I was in shock.  I couldn’t believe that this could be the outcome of my bringing forward a harassment complaint. In retrospect, it appeared my union rep regarded this as normal practice.  They said all the “right words” before the meeting but when I was terminated, I see now they were anticipating that outcome.  As we exited the boardroom and before we’d even left the building, and while I clearly vulnerable, the union rep suggested a settlement of $30,000.00, apparently the “going rate” at least at that time.   I refused the settlement offer and insisted on going to arbitration. Part-way through that process and more than a year after my termination, I was again offered an agreement which I was insistent I did not want for fear of the consequences. The agreement included an NDA and financial compensation. Over the course of several weeks, my union rep and their lawyer repeatedly pressured me to accept and to sign that agreement, suggesting the grievances could be withdrawn if I didn’t submit.  At no time was I ever informed I had the right to appeal their decision, and the arbitration panel was completely excluded from the process, at least so far as I was aware.  The lawyers and the union rep controlled the entire process.   When I resisted signing the agreement, the employer filed a regulatory complaint against me during arbitration.  The complaint related to evidence submitted by the union that disproved allegations against me.  That complaint was eventually dismissed but not before costing me several thousands of dollars to defend.  The union and its counsel refused to defend or assist me even though the complaint arose during arbitration.  It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Exhausted and traumatized, I signed.          I knew that signing that agreement could end my career.  The employer refused to provide a reference letter and because of the NDA, I could not explain why I had left my last job.  I knew that other nurses and healthcare workers would be affected too. They would see what happened to me when I spoke up about bullying and harassment even though my employer acknowledged I proceeded in “good faith.”  I believed that being silenced about what happened to me meant that the employer and the union would keep using NDAs (and I believe I am right about this).   In the end I signed the agreement.  I was being coerced and was under duress to sign the agreement and NDA.  Overwhelmed, grieving a series of significant personal losses and in moral distress, I kept thinking that if this is happening to me, it will keep happening to other nurses, most of whom are women.   In the end, the employer and the union left me with no choice.  I had to sign or be abandoned.   It was never my intention to still be fighting all these years later, but I am.  I’ve had no choice given a pattern of reprisals against me in the intervening years.  I have brought a case to the “Provincial” Labour Board regarding retaliation against me, and I won.  I proved that the harassment policy relied on by the employer and regulator did not comply with provincial legislation.  After years of being unable to find counsel willing to challenge these oppressive NDAs due to irreconcilable conflicts and a reasonable apprehension of bias, I was fortunate to have finally found counsel from outside this province.  I advocate for and work with other nurses and healthcare workers  who have been through the same painful experiences.   I know there must be many, many others suffering silently in this province and around the world.  Things have to change.

Story 31

I was asked to sign an NDA to cover maternity discrimination and a second time to cover harassment. The process of negotiating the NDA made me feel suicidal.  The NDA was presented to me at the end of a gruelling process that had to end otherwise I would have had to sell my home. The lasting impact of the NDA was ruinous   When I returned after my first baby my pay was cut. I organised a group of women, we fought and got our pay back. Then we were all silenced with NDAs so that other women in the company didn’t know to copy us.   Years later, I reported the most horrific harassment of various women around me. For doing that, I was forced out of my job and then NDAd. The same happened to other women who had reported harassment too.   None of those who were repeatedly accused faced any accountability. Our careers were ruined and we were silenced to protect them.

Story 32

I signed an NDA in order to receive money for therapy a few decades ago, the process was easy. While signing was entirely my decision, the NDA is still impacting my life.   I am a survivor of childhood physical and sexual abuse. After running away at 14 and not returning, I lived my life alone. Everyone knows about the abuse; it was only me that did not agree to forget about it.   When I was in my late 20’s and had started a family, my past began to haunt me. I immediately started therapy to ensure my own children and marriage would not fail due to my trauma. I was very angry that we had to pay for my therapy, so I filed a case against my mother and stepfather in my province to pay for the therapy. We had a discovery hearing at which time my parents saw a judge. I heard after the fact that they were told to settle. In order to receive my funds, I had to sign an NDA. They never disputed the abuse.   In 2016, I learned that my mother and my abuser lead a charmed life in another province. It was shocking when I had successfully removed them from my thoughts and life for 40 years! I spoke with my previous lawyer and asked her what the ramifications were to me if I made the small community aware of the situation in order to better chose a representative. After explaining to me what my risks were, she said one thing that stuck… The truth is a complete defense. I sent 6 packages all the same. They contained the transcripts from discovery, a letter detailing my story. I sent them to various public figures. I received 2 replies…One from the local election official that determined there was no requirement to disqualify her from the election. She won, but later resigned due to public pressure. And another handwritten note expressing sympathy and an apology. In December 2016, I was served with documents claiming slander among other things and refers to my signed agreement. January 2017, I flew to the other province to respond to the charge. While there I had a wonderful lawyer who filed my defense the next day, adding in the usual counterclaim talk for costs. This is where it sits. I am not allowing this to go quietly into the archives. Canadian Law is going to have to fix this one. My case is still before the courts!!! I would love to be the first person released from the NDA in Canada.

Story 33

I was sexually assaulted by an ER tech while alone in my hospital room with him. I reported it after leaving the ER to the hospital and police department. It was a hellacious process after that and I regretted reporting it every day.   The DA refused to prosecute so I had no criminal case and decided to pursue a civil case. I settled out of court and signed an NDA as part of the agreement.   My mediation lasted about 6 hours. I was so mentally exhausted from the whole mediation process that I didn’t even understand the scope of my NDA. I didn’t ask for details as I was just ready for the 6-hour ordeal to be over.   I am unable to warn others about the hospital where this occurred (a large network of hospitals in the southern US).

Story 34

I was sexually assaulted and filed a grievance. An NDA was part of the settlement I was forced to sign. I was not involved in the process. I was forced to sign by my union and my unions lawyer. It has taken away my rights to file a workers compensation claim. I was given no time to decide what to do.  I am financially, psychologically depleted in every way imaginable.    I work for a labour union and have spent over 2 decades fighting workplace harassment and discrimination. If it can happen to me, a so called “expert”, just imagine the thousands of women this is happening to in every single province in Canada!

Story 35

 I was bullied, sexually harassed, and verbally and emotionally abused by a colleague at work. He is now a freelancer. The irony of it all is that he was a cameraman for a major news organization. He made the news but really, he should now be the news. He emotionally abused me for the six years I worked for the company. In the end I met my husband and managed to escape his mental torture. His gaslighting has affected me.   Recently I worked for a similar boss and only began to realize what she was doing when I was made to sign an NDA to leave. I told HR my boss was bullying me. I had done nothing wrong. They paid me out to leave as she was a bully and so-called director for a large school trust.   The process of negotiating the NDA was with a solicitor. It was frightening and I only had a few weeks to decide what to do. After I signed the NDA, I had a breakdown.  I have kids; they saw me break down.   I don’t care about what has happened recently, I knew what was happening as it brought up issues from the past with this man.  It’s what happened to me working for the news organization that has really hurt me. I have no way of getting a chance to defend myself and this man still walks the streets today earning money. It’s complicated. I want to tell the world what he did to me, but how? Why should I suffer when he gets the career and the carefree life? He isn’t the ‘star’ he makes himself out to be and his journalist partner is none the wiser. Not fair!   Can you tell the world my story for me?

Story 36

I was asked to sign an NDA so that I would not tell anyone my experience of sexual harassment to protect the university and the person accused of sexual harassment.   I was working in a university beneath a person of considerable power who would only enable me to get my job done if I gave him emotional support (i.e., long hugs daily because his life was ‘so hard’, letting him vent about his ‘abusive wife’, and constantly massaging his ego). As a professional woman, I felt so demeaned but this was how he treated all women and many of them seemed to enjoy it.   His staff supported him throughout this ordeal and made me feel like I was a troublemaker for questioning his behaviour which had been normalized. Me and the only other colleague who stood up against this behaviour received considerable retaliation for whistleblowing. I was only a contract employee; I had no rights. I was told that the solution for me was to leave the university and find another job and that my contract would not be renewed because of this situation (they even acknowledged via a hidden voice recording that my situation was horrible and I was asked why “as a woman, would (I) put up with it for so long?” The colleague who stood up for me is still there and two years later continues to be bullied and blackballed by the people who support my previous boss.   After months of being blackballed by my boss and the rest of his team, I filed a human rights complaint and was in mediation through the provincial human rights tribunal. I was appalled that he defended himself with the claim that I ‘was asking for it’ as the reason he treated me in the way he did (even though from the thousands of individual text messages we exchanged it was he who initiated 122 personal after-hour conversations with me in a year while I had only initiated 7, and those were only out of a sense of obligation and guilt). I was naive and ignorant about NDAs and the university wanted to settle quickly. I don’t recall having a time limit to decide what to do but I do remember wanting it to be over with quickly. I said I’d sign if he signed one too and if I was allowed to tell my story to another person, in the rare case that that person also experienced the same treatment and reached out to me. I was told that’s not how NDAs work. There was no negotiation. I was given an ultimatum and from a position of zero power I felt like I had no choice. It’s not negotiable and it’s one-sided.    He and the university would be free to say anything they wanted about me and I was completely silenced. I was burning with indignation and wanted to take the case to tribunal. It was the only way that the public could hear both sides and then everything would be out in the open. All I wanted was acknowledgement and a public apology. Nothing would change otherwise. But because the settlement offer was so high my lawyer let me know that he wouldn’t make any money if he took this to court so I have to be willing to go into financial ruin to pay him to seek justice or simply settle. So, I had no true choice.   Having to sign an NDA was the first time I felt helpless, hopeless, and powerless. It was a feeling worse for me than the year and a half of sexual harassment I endured from my employer. I lost my job, I lost my voice, I became jaded and distrustful of all people in positions of power. I became jaded with the idea that anyone cared about justice or even kindness. It was all about money.   What I learned was that justice was for the rich, that universities that use NDAs to silence victims of sexual harassment care only about protecting their reputation and assets (he was the Dean at the time and he remains a tenured professor) and most importantly I learned that I don’t matter.

Story 37

I reported academic wrongdoing that had compromised and made it impossible for me to complete my degree. They eventually offered a remedy and an NDA. I thought it would help to put the experience behind me but it didn’t. I think it completely ruined my life.   I had no idea that by gagging me – the accountability for the incomplete degree shifted from the people responsible for undermining it – to me – that now would appear to others that this was a personal failure, that I was academically incapable and I had only myself to blame. I moved on, or thought I had, I re-invented myself, thrived for a while but when I moved into a new role, things changed.   What I didn’t understand when I signed was that there will always be abusive people out there ready to take painful experiences like that to use them to their advantage, to misrepresent, diminish and control others. Several people did that to me and they have caused so much more harm. It’s so terribly unfair and I wish someone had told me before I signed, that NDAs are only made to protect the people and institutions that caused another person harm, that NDAs force the person harmed into silence, which HELPS abusive people instead of holding them accountable, that the harmed person who agrees to silence can’t warn others to protect them and they can’t talk about the pain or grief they carry from that loss and that silence will take a great personal toll.  And if people suspect a person may have signed an NDA, the person who was harmed and gagged can be vulnerable to new abuses.   Signing that NDA was a mistake. My only choices were to take all the losses and get no help, or sign and at least there is some help. But I was hurt. I was entitled to the help. What was wrong was to tie that help to an NDA. Because the NDA crippled me, it forced me into being part of a cover up, it shifted the accountability for my incomplete degree off of the people responsible and onto me in the form of stigma, stigma with a forced impairment that made me vulnerable to being hurt by others.   I want the university to quietly release me from the NDA I signed. I was the one who was hurt, but by making me sign an NDA, all the people who negligently undermined my degree walked off to better jobs without looking back, whereas I am still suffering- all these years later – because people can still exploit and distort the circumstances around my incomplete degree to humiliate and hurt me.   It’s completely inappropriate for universities to make students who were harmed by any form of wrongdoing sign NDAs. It’s just wrong.   

Story 38

I was asked to sign an NDA to settle a sexual harassment complaint I made in my workplace. I didn’t have any choice as the terms were presented to me and I wasn’t allowed to change them. I needed the financial settlement as I had lost my job unfairly due to discrimination so I felt I had to sign it. Signing it caused me mental health issues, feeling like I didn’t matter, struggled starting new employment as I have to lie a lot about the past employer.  

Story 39

I participated in a prestigious fellowship program which placed early career lawyers from the global south as embedded technical experts in governments in  Africa. While this sounds appealing, candidates from non-donor countries are not accepted or tolerated. In my specific case, I suffered sexual harassment, hostility (my laptop was stolen from the government office and video camera footage removed) etc. It was a very difficult year and the fellowship did not have the bandwidth to handle contingencies. So they asked me to leave and made me sign an NDA.   There was no negotiation. I was simply asked to sign, and the tone even in the NDA was intimidating and patronizing.  I was given no time to decide what to do.  I was irritated. Five years later I encountered wrongdoing in a UN agency and point blank informed them I’m not signing an NDA, and they never asked me since I’d made it abundantly clear I’m done being pushed around.   Five years later now, I’ve written to that organization and asked them if they continue to handle troubled placements the way they handled my placement – by firing me and asking me to sign an NDA. I’ve also told them that if young people from the global south at the same level of bargaining power I was at five or six years back are being supported the way I was when stationed in a foreign country, I would be extremely concerned and feel compelled to act. They have asked me for time to review the documents since the management has changed in entirety.

Story 40

I highlighted discriminatory conduct and wrongdoing. The organisation wanted to sweep everything under the carpet and offered money to silence me and leave whereas the wrongdoers were left to continue wrongdoing.  I was given one week to decide what to do.  It made my blood boil as I was getting a payoff and requested to leave while the perpetrators were being rewarded for acting unlawfully.  I felt really bitter and angry to allow the criminals to strike again.   So in effect you can break the law as long as you have deep pockets and risk that the individual does not know their rights or have the resources and support to take it on and hold the organisation to account.

Story 42

At a meeting with the Dean of my area at a major Canadian University, I was told that my contract was not going to be renewed after five years of continuous employment.  I was also told that in order to receive my severance pay, I would have to sign an NDA and to agree never again to contact or to speak to any department employee.  There was no explanation given for the nonrenewal or the NDA.  I suspect this action was taken due to inappropriate sexual harassment by the program coordinator at the time, but this was never confirmed. I was required to sign the NDA within minutes of leaving the Dean’s office and at no time did I have any legal or union representative present.  I remained confused and angry about what happened.

Story 43

I signed an NDA in 2017 as part of a settlement agreement and release.    I made a donation of $10,000 in 2012 to a Christian charity with explicit instructions for it to be used for a particular program with which I was working, also a Christian charity and operating under the auspices of the first charity (the “umbrella charity”). This was a designated donation. In fact, my donation was not sent to the designated program, but instead transferred to the General Account for the umbrella charity. I pointed out the error, and it was corrected.  However later that year my donation was again diverted from the designated program back to the General Account, along with additional monies that were taken from the homelessness program..   This meant that instead of being used as to help the program I specified, they were diverted to the larger organization of the umbrella charity but I was not informed of this. As a result, the needs of the program I intended to support went unmet. The umbrella charity is a member of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC) and has claims to adhere to their Standards of Organizational Integrity and Accountability, On their website they state that “Spending of funds is confined to programs and projects approved by (the umbrella charity). Each restricted contribution designated toward such an approved program or project will be used as designated with the understanding that when the need for such a program or project has been met or cannot be completed for any reason determined by the ministry, the remaining restricted contributions will be used where the need is the greatest. Gifts are acknowledged and receipted with an official tax receipt for income tax purposes.”   However, the needs of the program I wanted to support had not been me and continued to go unmet – this was a homelessness charity in dire need of basic resources to help the homeless. Not only was my designated donation diverted, but at the same time additional monies were taken from the homelessness program and given back the umbrella charity. As a volunteer with the homelessness program, I knew just how desperately that money was needed.   After raising my concerns and insisting that this “redesignation” of my gift be corrected, I made an agreement with the umbrella charity which included the NDA. In that agreement, the umbrella charity agreed to transfer my donation as I requested. The NDA stated that the agreement, its terns and existence, could not be spoken about to anyone. There was no reference to reporting for tax purposes.   In fact, in their reporting to the CRA, the umbrella charity entered my donation under “compensation” for their employees.   In the absence of clarification and evidence, recording the transaction as “Compensation” is false or misleading.  If it is factually true, this means that the undertaking made to me in the settlement agreement has not been met. Yet I am supposed to continue to abide by the NDA?   To say my trust has been broken does not come close to capturing the impact this has had on me. Christian leaders have destroyed the foundation of my world view: A Christian faith I entered in to on Easter Sunday, 1973. The emotional impact has been overwhelming. I have suffered and continue to suffer significant loss. I am getting professional help to deal with that.   The NDA protects the perpetrator, not the victim – here, homeless people.  Furthermore it was used to cover up what I consider to be a fraudulent breach of trust.   I believe that a non-disclosure agreement is fundamentally un-Christian.

Story 44

There are two parts to my story about NDAs.   The first occurred when I joined the board of my national professional association and was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.  This was then held over my head when I reported harassment and the silencing of concerns about harassment, when I witnessed discrimination, and when I raised issues of financial impropriety.   The second took place after I was suspended from a position for incivility based on a complaint letter that actually stated I had not been uncivil but asked too many questions.  I was publicly suspended for 6 months. I sought relief in courts after the only process provided by my employer required that I sign an NDA.   I felt silenced, disempowered, and swept under the rug by the NDA I signed, in the first situation.  When I chose voice and refused to sign an NDA in the second, that meant further public attacks on my credibility. When presented with an NDA, I was told that signing it was an urgent, essential first step.  The confidentiality agreement still hangs over my head as a threat. NDAs are still seen as normal trade off by lawyers.

Story 45

I signed an NDA following two years of bullying at a UK university as part of a settlement agreement. I never knew the NDA was something I could have negotiated over. I was naïve enough to think the NDA might even help me move on, that it would prevent me from dwelling on it with my new employer or friends. In reality, it has just created distance and isolation, and has prolonged the trauma of that experience.    Bullying behaviour had become apparent within a few weeks of me starting my job, and despite my managers’ assurances that they had a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, two years later it was only getting worse. I had been off sick with work-related stress for six months, my full sick pay entitlement had run out, and despite multiple occupational health reports identifying workplace bullying as the cause of my illness, there was no solution in sight. My managers just suggested I should come back and see if the bullying continued. I spoke to my trade union and various phone helplines about resigning and suing for constructive dismissal. Thanks to the support of my trade union, we instead had a “protected conversation” where my employer proposed a settlement offer. I was given a week to consider their settlement offer “without prejudice”. I accepted in principle, after which they sent me the full settlement document – which included what I now recognise as NDA clauses.    I got the impression early on that my silence was valuable, that the university were quite keen for me to sign and be gone. There wasn’t any resistance to me negotiating a higher pay offer (not that this was my main motivator), exemptions to the NDA to discuss my experience with medical professionals, or negotiating to keep my records of the bullying behaviour. The process took around six weeks, from settlement offer to termination. I was grateful for the support of an empathetic HR adviser who never pressured me to sign – the date of my termination just got updated with each round of amendments. My trade union supported me with arranging legal advice for the final wording, and I understood the implications of what I was signing. I thought I’d got a good deal. In retrospect, the university got a bargain – six months’ pay for a lifetime of silence.  Part of me hates myself for allowing my silence to be bought. Part of me wants to fight them through the courts to get them to admit liability, after all I and my colleagues had suffered. However, by this point I was so isolated from my colleagues after six months off sick that I didn’t feel they were worth prolonging the stress for. I also didn’t feel confident that my case was clear-cut enough – whilst I had access to university-funded legal advice on the settlement, this expressly did not constitute legal advice on the strength of my case. I would have had to resign without a settlement to qualify for this expensive advice through my trade union – a bit of a catch-22.    So I was a pragmatist. I accepted a financial settlement that would see me through a potentially lengthy period of unemployment and recovery, and remove the stress of arguing and reliving my case in a public courtroom, in exchange for going quietly and securing a basic reference for my next job. Settlements have their place. However, I now know it was immoral for my employer to include a gagging clause in that settlement.    Looking back, whilst my settlement is probably less strict than most, I wish I had negotiated to remove the NDA clause altogether. I am relatively early in my career, and it is terrifying knowing that I must stay quiet about this traumatic episode, *for the rest of my life*. If a friend or colleague is being bullied at work, I must never disclose the bullying I experienced. If asked about my career choices, I must never explain why I left a job I loved. If I am chatting about work with friends or extended family, I mustn’t make any remarks about my employer or associated persons that could be seen as derogatory. If the trauma is affecting me in any future job, I mustn’t explain why I am struggling. I worry about what I’ll do if I encounter those bullies in a future job, and how I would raise my concerns without breaching my NDA. I’ve thought about changing my name, about moving into a different employment sector altogether.    NDAs don’t only silence, they isolate current and future victims to protect the reputation of the employer. They are unnecessary to a settlement, and I fully support this campaign to ban their use in cases of bullying and harassment. Following this campaign, I am closely monitoring whether my previous employer will be pledging to stop using NDAs, and I hope they will agree to release me from mine.

Story 46

My male supervisor at the university engaged in a years-long campaign to try to force me to sign over my large research fund to his control. When I refused to sign the documents, he and then the administration engaged in a concerted bullying campaign to silence me (protecting the university’s reputation) while trying to force me to sign the documents.   They broke workplace law repeatedly and openly, and with absolutely no fear about consequences to themselves. They used every method they could to try to force my hand, from withholding approval of the expense receipts I submitted under my grants to attempting to redirect the funds to themselves. I was completely alone in my attempts to do the right thing. The other women faculty kept silent as they tried to obtain tenure.   I held out until my health failed, which has left me disabled. I could not physically endure the long process of suing them, so I signed an NDA and took the money. They destroyed my health and work with no consequences to themselves. They did this with taxpayer funding and student fees.

Story 47

I was the honours coordinator in the School of Nursing at an elite university in Australia. I discovered that at least 5 students of Associate Prof B had been enrolled into the 4th year of a 4-year program. They had never been to university before. Prof B had also waived the honours thesis requirement for her students, so they graduated with a BN (hons) having not met ANY of the requirements of these qualifications.   As the honours coordinator I was required to sign off on these graduations. I went to the head of teaching/learning in the faculty and provided a written summary of the students’ academic records and my concerns.   Six weeks later I received an email from my head of school, Prof T, who was a longtime friend of Prof B. Prof T told me that there had been so many complaints about me IN THE LAST SIX WEEKS that I would be immediately removed as honours coordinator and removed from all committees. The complaints were anonymous and no details were given beyond my “inappropriate” and “aggressive” behaviour. Later FOI revealed none of these complaints ever existed.   After 3 years of reprisals…. weekly complaints, pay cut, public humiliation, marginalization I reported reprisals to the faculty. I was put through the “grievance” system where I was pressured to be nicer as the outcome. The grievance procedure morphed into performance management. I was accused by Prof T of research fraud, academic fraud, and financial fraud. My own research grant money was transferred to the school account so I was unable to continue with my research (using my own funds earned in my own time) …   I finally went to an Australian Crime and Corruption Commission, which asked the university to investigate itself. The university found that “no evidence” of misconduct – they didn’t even look up the student records which proved they hadn’t done the courses of the BN (hons). The university also found that I had not suffered reprisals… I had spent 5 years of “performance management action”. At this point all my teaching had been taken away, my research had been financially sabotaged and I had no admin. I hired a lawyer to fight in industrial court to keep my job.   However, my lawyer pushed me into taking a redundancy…. I think that is the model that universities and lawyers have an understanding about. My lawyer certainly thought I was holding out for more money, when in fact I was holding out for my job.   In the end I was suicidal, had severe anxiety and serious PTSD. I had uncontrollably high blood pressure. When faced with the choice between suicide and redundancy, I took redundancy. Ironically, that didn’t make the suicidal plans go away. They existed for about 5 years.   The redundancy agreement was arranged between my lawyer and the university. I didn’t know or care what the terms what. I only insisted that my last 5 annual appraisals (by prof T, which she rated as “unsatisfactory”) would be annulled. I was thinking this would be necessary for me to get another job…. 5 years of “unsatisfactory” appraisals, as well as zero references after being in job for 15 years was foremost on my mind.   I was so desperate for some relief, I agreed immediately. I was not in a fit mental state to sign any kind of contract. I didn’t read it; I didn’t know or care what it said. I wanted the torture to stop. I would do anything to make the relentless character assassination and organized bullying stop.   As soon as I signed the redundancy agreement with NDA, I regretted it. The students with “gifted” qualifications still had them and used them. One went on to get a PhD with Prof B and used illegal data I had said was not ethical when she wanted to use when she enrolled in the honours program. This student got an unearned BN, an unearned honours and a fraudulent PhD. She then went on to win (with Prof B) almost $375000 grant which went to the university to employ her. Also, I was unemployable. My PTSD was so bad my blood pressure would rise to 200/150 despite maximum medication (4 different medications). I would get panic attacks every time someone would lie to me. My reputation was so bad that no university would hire me so I tried to work as a research assistant and as a personal carer for a disabled lady. But my panic attacks were debilitating when the carer from the night shift would leave her work undone for me to pick up in the morning. Even this “normal” workplace abuse would trigger a panic attack.   So I regretted the NDA immediately for personal and professional and idealistic reasons (about what a university degree means). I am 100% sure the NDA isn’t enforceable though. The university lied when it wrote up the contract. It agreed to annul my annual appraisals from 2009-2013. So I got self inking rubber stamps to stamp on every false accusation “not supported by the evidence”. When I asked HR about when I could come in and spend the day stamping on the 400 or so complaints about me, the deputy head of HR said that the university never intended to annul my annual appraisals. He said he would put them in an envelope in my HR file.   So I filed a bunch of FOI (RTI in Australia… right to information) and discovered ZERO complaints about me. It turned out that Prof T had made them all up.   But the annulled appraisals also had significant financial implications. It was in my annual appraisals that Prof T cut my pay. Since these appraisals were annulled, the pay cut would have been annulled. One of the false accusations made AFTER I signed the redundancy agreement was that I had gone to a holiday spot to go to a conference I had paid to go to, but which Prof T had told me during my annual appraisal I was not allowed to go.   This was the financial fraud…. going to a conference when I had been told I wasn’t to go. In fact I hadn’t gone…. I was way too sick to attend, but this was my misconduct because I had used the university credit card to pay for a conference I did not have permission to attend (in fact I paid for it with MY research grant….MY OWN money… I never had access to a university credit card. But my issue was that I was not guilty of THAT misconduct because my 2013 annual appraisal had been annulled before the date of the conference. Therefore Prof T’s direction to me NOT to attend the conference was annulled. The university put in writing that it never intended to “annul” the annual appraisals, so I take that as them having entered into an illegal contact. They lied about the terms of the redundancy agreement, so they breached it. I lost a lot of money because of their lie. I was counting on being reimbursed all the lost wages resulting from the annulled appraisal. It never occurred to me that the university would lie about that. They wrote up the redundancy agreement. They included the clause that the annual appraisals would be annulled. I signed it in good faith.   So I don’t consider that I am bound by the NDA. I have tried to get my story out, but the Australian press will not report on things that might affect Australia’s third biggest export (after tourism and mining, university education is a cornerstone of the Australian economy). Also, the Crime and Corruption Commission has officially stamped “liar” on my forehead. They concurred with the university that no one SAW any evidence of gifted qualifications and that I complained about reprisals because I was a substandard employee undergoing 5 years of performance management.   The conflict of interest of Prof T, who had been best friends with Prof B for 30 years since they were in nursing school together was actively avoided. That every single one of 400 complaints came from Prof T was never investigated. As soon as I left, both Prof T and Prof B were let go. This was so that the university could claim, “2 bad apples who don’t work here anymore”. Both Prof T and B are full tenured professors at other Australian universities. The fact that the university got rid of them indicates that it knew the whole time that I had told the truth and that it was deliberately keeping me in harm’s way to ensure the reprisals would achieve the desired end.   The stuff about deliberately lying on the redundancy agreement is just carelessness IMO. I think that this choreography to get rid of academics trying to do the right thing by students is so commonplace that when my lawyer told the university the only thing I wanted was to have the annual appraisals annulled, they stuck it into the agreement without thinking about the implications. They (and my lawyer) really only were capable of thinking in terms of a financial settlement. To this day I have no idea if I just got my legal entitlements after 15 years’ employment or if I got a lump sum in addition. I just know the university’s contract said it would annual the appraisals and then afterwards said it would NOT annual the appraisals AND HAD NEVER HAD ANY INTENTION OF ANNULLING THE APPRAISALS. They put this in writing.   So I am assuming that the NDA is illegal and I can say whatever I want. I reckon the university could sue me, but a) they lied on the agreement, b) I’d have to give back whatever “extra” money they gave me, and I’m not sure they gave me any “extra” beyond my legal entitlements like holiday pay etc, and c) really bad publicity for the university. My biggest problem is finding an outlet for my story because systemic corruption at universities will not be reported by the Australian press. We don’t have a free press in Australia, and that is a huge part of the problem. I’ve had 3 different reporters take my story, take ALL my evidence including the fake waivers, and ghost me. I suspect a “catch and kill” is going on if I am not simply blacklisted.

Story 48

While a postdoctoral scientist, I reported my adviser for research misconduct, gender discrimination, harassment and bullying to the university (in the United States). After 3 months of FMLA and 6 months of paid administrative leave by the university, they suddenly decided that it was time for me to go. They were not going to do anything about my Title VII and IX allegations nor my research misconduct allegations. Before they actually fired me, they asked me to sign an NDA that would silence me once and for all.   There wasn’t much negotiating to be honest. I was given one week to decide what to do.  After six months of paid administrative leave, the university suddenly decided that they were not going to keep me on paid leave anymore. They contacted my lawyer with a two-page letter (the NDA) outlining their expectations (I.e., my silence) if I accepted their offer of only four weeks’ pay (this is what my entire academic career was worth to them!). Luckily, I had good advice from colleagues who had been through similar situations. They advised me not to sign it, because it would cause mental and emotional distress for years to come.   My lawyer and I rejected the letter, and the university subsequently fired me. It was the end of my academic research career. It has been three years since then, and I’m still mourning the loss. My adviser was allowed to keep working this entire time, tampered with evidence for the research misconduct case, and continued to harass and bully his staff. He’s still employed by the university, who continues to give him funds and awards. At this point, almost 20 women have left their careers because of his abuse…and this has only been during his most recent employment of five years at this university. He displayed the same abusive behaviors at his previous universities too.   I’m grateful every day that I had colleagues to guide me through this process. Signing the NDA would have silenced me, just as my harasser did. It’s taken me a long time to reclaim my voice.

Story 49

My employer knew that my grievances relating to student safety, negligence, staff misconduct and discrimination would impact on their reputation. Exhausted, and suffering from [what became] PTSD, I signed an NDA in order to move on with my life and try to recover.   To recover one needs closure. NDAs might appear to offer that, but sadly they do not. They do not quell the nightmares, or the sense that injustice has been allowed to happen, and careers ruined. The injustice that people with integrity do not make it into leadership, so that they might change this culture once and for all.   My employer has recently signed the pledge. Senior leaders have moved on to other senior roles [let that be a warning to other HEIs], or ‘retired’ – the truth will never be allowed to come out. When I rebuild my life, and this campaign gains traction, maybe I will tell my story. Until then I live with my PTSD, with the added anxiety that I must not speak of the traumas I experienced – all of which were avoidable if someone would have just listened and acted.   Justice is not a ‘from now on we will…’. This is not good enough. It is not good enough to suddenly recognize what staff have been saying for years, to the point that they leave their jobs tired of trying to enact meaningful change. HR offer ‘support’ which mirrors the performance management policies, individualizing and gaslighting already vulnerable staff. You are signed off, and the distance between you and your colleagues only grows. Alone now, you question whether this is all worth it – your family suffers, the NDA becomes more attractive, you swallow your sense of natural justice, and for a few months feel free. You are only really free from the procedure though, the injustice repeats.

Story 50

The institution has sought to silence me from the get-go. To cover up as much as they can about the sexual harassment of a professor’s lewd jokes, gestures, and how he propositioned me. How I asked them for help, and my pleas were minimized. I was told that I did not know what sexual harassment is. I was blamed and shamed and even yelled at for bringing this up.   I wanted support and advocacy but received none. It took me a long time to realize that I am not alone and that my story is like countless other women’s stories. However, that does not make me feel better and it far from solves the gaslighting and victim traumatizing problem.   Worse than that, the school is going through lengths to ensure that the public does not find out the truth about so many things to save their reputation while they ruined my stellar one. The harassing professor and deans involved quietly moved on and passed on. Not only do we need to stop NDAs, but we must STOP Pass the Harasser and make these policies globally.   We have an epidemic problem, even if women are not alone, and we have to move the needle. It costs women their jobs, careers, and livelihoods, affecting their health. All NDAs do is cover up the truth and cover up the countries with lies and make the taxpayers pay for this. We in education owe it to the next generation who come to earn a degree to model good behaviour. I am frightened, but I am also sick of all this crap.

Story 51

A local criminal board did not want me to admit publicly that children’s aid  and police failed to keep myself and sister safe. She died and I survived.   Taken by children’s aid it took me years to get adoption paperwork. They refused to give me full disclosure as they feared retribution and mailed me a non disclosure.   When I filed with a criminal board I asked that I could see the offenders in an open hearing, charge them criminally and have them put on a sex offenders list. I wanted my day in front of those who molested me. Instead I got paper stating it would be a closed hearing and was offered 12,000 with publication ban. Also money for therapy with approved therapists.    Crucially, I want to publish a book about my childhood and can’t. I want more therapy but the criminal board limited my sessions amount and price per session.    So no one was charged, I couldn’t save other kids, My nightmares led to PTSD. I couldn’t give justice to my sister either (even making statement at police station as an adult and they couldn’t find her dead body). The police ruled her suffocation an accident years back. So no justice for either of us.    The publication ban should be lifted. I hope my story can help or direct me how I can assist in making change.

Story 52

I was hired in a municipal public works department. The guys did not want to have a woman work with them. I was told they have ways to get rid of someone they don’t want to work with, that if I want a man’s job, I have to work like a man and to go back to the office where I belong.   Discrimination, harassment, and fear were a way of life for me. I became nervous, lost my confidence, became anxious, tried going to Human Rights Commission but was put on delays for six years. I was asked to divorce myself from public works by a provincial authority and take a job in administration only to have it start all over again. Complained to Human Rights again about two directors, they quit. Finally, my lawyer told me she wouldn’t represent me anymore if I didn’t sign the disclosure agreement and settlement.   After years of battling for justice, I gave up. I had nothing left. I didn’t even read what I was signing. I heard her talking but wasn’t listening. I was shocked that I was losing a battle I had fought for so long, a job and my career. I couldn’t function, work or trust people anymore. I lost my life, confidence and independence.   When I heard about this movement, I thought something was happening to help people in my position. We need help. Disclosure agreements should be able to be taken back for justice, victims’ sanity and their ability to move on from horrible circumstances that were no fault of their own.   Bullies and liars should not win!

Story 53

February 22, 2022   I have a NDA and the lawyers just warned me when I was still asking questions that I could not speak.   I warned of various issues from Data Privacy laws to furlough misuse and tax issues. I was also dyslexic and asking for reasonable adjustments. I was doing a good job but my boss was based abroad, not understanding things domestically and therefore missing things including legally. When I started highlighting these more vigorously and asking more often to actually get reasonable adjustments, they put me on a performance review. The performance review was for a few weeks, when I was ill and also there was no proper feedback. I have subsequently found out that my boss has made statements that are factually incorrect and also HR did not even give me basic rights. The company was particularly impacted by Covid but they wasted a lot of money and did things that most people would disagree with and showed clear bias and a superiority mentality.   Due to my ill health and the bullying he put me under for the last few months, I settled but it has knocked my confidence and I am still emotionally distraught and suffering from sleep issues a year later. HR are covering up, as are senior management. They are still likely breaking the law on things like privacy and for Governmental contracts but I can’t say anything .   Their PR is all about inclusivity. I wish people could look between the lines and see the real company (discriminatory and law breaking).   Based on the potential law changes for NDA, I gave them the opportunity to do the right thing and answer questions. Their lawyers again hid behind the NDA. The silence speaks volumes.

Story 54

My story in short version:   I was employed by a large health care research and development corporation for nearly ten years. The termination of my contract was a consequence of my reporting on sexual harassment I was subjected to by my manager. According to the company’s ethical rules, there is zero tolerance for the type of incidence that I was exposed to, and employees are encouraged to report concerns without fear of reprisal.   The NDA:   Three months after my report, I was summoned to a meeting. I didn’t receive advance information about the agenda. In the meeting I was presented with the following fait accompli: there was no position for me in [the company], my work task in my department was removed from me. I had just applied for another position in a different department, and I was told that there were no possibilities for me there either. I was then presented with an NDA that I didn’t want, and  on Friday afternoon I was given a deadline of Monday afternoon to sign. I contacted several managers, but no one would talk with me. I was only referred to the deadline for the NDA. In the end, after a short conversation with Managing Director, I signed the NDA.  I stated that I was very disappointed over the outcome of the meeting, and that I didn’t perceive this as an offer. I was then accused of solely being after the money. He proposed to me that I either choose the NDA or continue with the company on sick leave.   After few days I contacted the company’s European headquarters through its “Integrity” line. And I also contacted  the CEO of the company in the UK.   The Managing Director of my branch of the company then called to tell me that he was informed about my dialog with the top management. I told him that this was not about the money, but about ethical behavior.   Several days later I received a letter from the company indicating that the NDA was being terminated.   The equality and Anti- Discrimination Ombuds   I sought help from the public anti-discrimination ombuds. They took two years and five months on this case. I lost on all issues. They said  (translation):   “[We] understand that [the complainant] did not want an NDA. However, this does not prove that she was exposed to retaliation.  Offering an NDA can be a solution for the employee and employer in a difficult situation where there is agreement that [the present employment situation] does not work. [We] agree that [the company] should [have} notified her that they prepared an NDA before the meeting, so she [would have] had the opportunity to bring a lawyer to the meeting.”  “[We have], after an overall assessment, come to the conclusion that no circumstances have been referred to that give reason to believe that there is a causal connection between the notification of sexual harassment and the fact that she was offered an NDA”.   Court:   I took the case on my own to court. I did not have money in case I lost, and I risked being charged for both the company’s and my own legal costs.   I also lost in the court, and the judge said that this case must have been a strain for the management of the company. I was ordered to pay the company’s legal costs which I did with a consumer loan.   By doing my duty as a loyal employee to notify the company about sexual harassment it eventually became a battle for my own job.   Conclusion: the legal system in my country supported the company in use of NDA’s in matters of sexual harassment.

Story 55

As the first Black female hired during my organisation’s lengthy history, I complained very vocally about the treatment of Black and Brown employees working in front-of-house roles. In my own experience, my team leader extended my probation because she said my “face didn’t fit the organisation” and I was “aggressive and intimidating.” However, they failed to give me concrete examples of instances where I displayed this behaviour or how I could improve. I calmly tried to explain that this is something that Black women in the workforce are unjustly accused of frequently. I sent her links to academic studies supporting what I said and asked her to discuss this with her. Instead, my team leader accused me of playing “the race card” and told me she had numerous black friends.   I witnessed other managers complaining loudly that they had to change the schedule to accommodate a Muslim colleague’s prayer time.   Another manager told me that I would not be receiving a top hat because my head shape was “too awkward” because of my curly afro hair. When I went to get fitted for the top hat, the hat maker kept making comments about how big my hair was and asked me to make it flatter. I felt like I had to comply and joke along with him because I had already been tarred with the reputation of being “the difficult Black woman.”   Many other White employees would mock a Jamaican manager behind his back endlessly. They would make comments saying that he only obtained his position in management because he received a settlement years earlier for complaining about racism. As a result, he was not respected in the organisation. Many people in the front-of-house team, including managers, called him “intimidating” for simply making a request or doing his job. In addition, many employees often mocked his Jamaican accent in a derogatory way. During a morning briefing, I also witnessed a senior staff member referring to some visitors as coming from “bongo bongo land.”   I was a member of a union that helped me lodge an employment tribunal claim. The union lawyers explained that the organisation was prepared to offer me a settlement with a “confidentiality agreement” during the conciliation phase. I had no idea that potentially this agreement would prevent me from speaking to anyone about the racism I witnessed for the rest of my life. The lawyers with the union were more concerned with bringing the negotiations to a swift conclusion. I had one fifteen-minute phone call with one of the union’s lawyers about my case.   She tried to talk me through some negotiating tactics to get more compensation and bring the negotiations to a swift conclusion. No one in the entire process of conciliation ever once mentioned to me the long-term implications of signing an NDA on my life. I mistakenly thought that a “confidentially clause” was something entirely different from a “non-disclosure” agreement. It was only after I signed that I learned, through my research, that they are essentially the same thing legally. If the term “NDA” had appeared in my settlement agreement, I would not have signed it.   There wasn’t an official timeline, but lawyers made me feel pressured to wrap up the negotiations as quickly as possible. Neither side wanted my case to go to trial. I think everything was concluded within about a week and a half.   When I reflect on signing my NDA, what strikes me the most is how accepted and widespread the practice was in the organisation I worked for. The organisation is a charity which manages some important sites. The working culture there was highly cynical. Anyone who complained about the toxic work culture and racism was labelled “a troublemaker” who would ultimately get a payout.   In all honesty, my mental health suffered greatly after I signed the NDA. It was only after I started researching the long-term implications of a “confidentiality clause” that I realised just what I had given up.   As a Black woman, I had relinquished the right to speak my truth; to reach out to and support other Black employees who were experiencing the same racist treatment that I faced. I took an overdose of citalopram after I signed the NDA. After that, the world felt like a darker and more cynical place. This agreement makes me feel powerless and small to this day. When I look at posters advertising where I used to work, I feel a sharp pain in my chest, using images of a little Black boy admiring the site.   I cannot fathom how it is legal in the UK for a charity to use NDAs to silence the victims of racial discrimination and bullying. When the public donates to a charity, they probably don’t imagine their donations going towards these secret settlements.

Story 56

I am in the process of negotiating settlement. My case was submitted to employment tribunal and I have a hearing scheduled in September. I hope I will not be forced to sign NDA and my preference is to have my day in court. I hope it will help me to recover. I developed a disability as a result of workplace stress and sexual assault by my line manager. My employer’s solicitors negotiate the settlement with threats, forcing me to sign discriminatory package and pushing with unreasonable deadlines. Considering my mental health condition its difficult for me to concentrate and make a decision and any interaction through my solicitor with my former employer’s solicitors results to my nervous breakdown. I believe my employer and their solicitor try to take advantage of my position. In 2016 I suffered psychiatric injury as a result of workplace violence (sexual assault and battery) and emotional harassment. The company terminated my contract when I developed disability and was signed off from work.

Story 57

Since it’s been asked through your process to share my story without any identifying details, I will follow suit. However, my soon to be published memoir breaks boundaries and will absolutely contain identifying details. My position is that If I fail to identify the corrupt behavior of those responsible, they continue to get away with reprehensible acts. Here, I will share, in a shortened version, my experiences.    In 2016, I brought a complaint against a municipal police force in Canada for ageism because of its handling of my application to be a police officer. After a disturbing phone call with a recruiting official, 2 years after I had passed my interview, in which she asked me “how old are you’, and then removed me from the process, I made a complaint to the Human Rights Commission, which is supposedly free and neutral in terms of dealing with both parties in an impartial matter in comparison to the time-consuming, expensive option of court procedure. I had previously reached out to all sorts of legal programs for representation, but none would get involved.    In  2017, I very regrettably signed an NDA. Within the one mere month thereafter that I was entitled to contest it, I approached the Human Rights Legal Support Centre because they have lawyers on staff who are supposed to assist in with these kinds of requests. Not only did I never speak with a lawyer, each of their gatekeepers deflected my concerns, and then the time limitation passed. My requests for assistance were repeatedly ignored by a plethora of lawyers, months and even years afterwards, even those whose occupation was in the category of ‘human rights’ and employment. This shows you the power the policing institution has enjoyed.    In 2020, I wrote a formal complaint to the Social Justice Tribunal requesting that my agreement be abolished. I stated I wasn’t interested in a reconsideration option because Tribunal stipulated that the original adjudicator would be in the best position to determine if my request was acceptable. However, the adjudicator was one of the focuses of my complaint. I cited every single ground on which I was entitled to have my request accepted, according to their own website: substantive and procedural grounds of unconscionability, exceptional circumstances granted to the respondent, the fact I had requested legal representation during the disclosure and was denied, the fact the adjudicator provided by the HRT was herself biased towards the respondent, the subtle coercion used by her, my lack of any semblance of understanding of the contract presented to me despite her tepid explanations. The respondent clearly had an advantage, possessing ‘superior bargaining power,’ and had their own lawyer present. I had no one. The HRC didn’t adhere to their own Code.    The Social Justice Tribunal responded months later (after saying they never received my complaint) that the matter was ‘resolved,’ and asked if I wanted to proceed to seek the services of a lawyer and apply to divisional court (knowing full well no lawyer would become involved). Signing the NDA, a contract or document I personally consider a bribe, which is illegal, was likely the worst decision of my life. It was accomplished during a time when I had no support system in place as my husband had to leave for work out of province for 7 years while I went to university and raised 6 children single-handedly.  This whole process was horrific. I had already gone a year prior to signing the NDA during which time I had refused to sign. The second time I went, I had no support, no legal representation, and faced an adjudicator who made disparaging comments about my motivation and pressured me to sign.    How much time was I given to decide what to do? The adjudicator pointedly suggested to the respondent that it was ‘in their best interest to resolve the matter that day’. And to me, you’ve been waiting for this day for a while, and postponing it to a hearing will take at least another 9 months. You don’t want that, do you”? She was plainly trying to expedite the process that day to avoid future interaction and further examination of the respondent.    The Human Rights Tribunal is a complete misnomer.  Because, like most people,  I did not have the luxury of paying for a legal team to represent me, my only recourse was to write of it. I applaud Julie’s efforts to bring public recognition to the absolute detrimental damage done to victims who regrettably sign NDA’s.

Story 58

18 years ago, I divorced someone who has subsequently become very well-known.    Throughout our relationship, he was incredibly coercive and violent, and the tipping point came when he nearly killed me. His behaviour became much worse towards the end of our marriage; increasingly unpredictable. The holes in the walls of our home – made millimeters from my face with his fist – more plentiful. I did not see that his behaviour was abnormal. He was a brilliant and talented person, after all – under so much career pressure, Wasn’t this how people of his calibre were allowed to behave? The final straw came one Christmas eve, when at his hands I suffered a near fatal strangulation and a heavy blow to my face that left me looking like a bloodied alien. One side of my face doubled in size. He called his mother and father, who immediately came to his rescue. They told me not to go to the police, or the hospital. It was a threat: ‘You go to the police, there will be consequences for you. You will ruin his career’. I believed them and felt that I was worthless. His success must come before justice. They even called my father, with whom I had sought refuge, to reiterate that going to the police was not an option. My father insisted on taking me to hospital, where the doctor in A&E confirmed that, had the blow been a hairs breadth across on my temple, the blow would have almost certainly have been fatal. After the divorce, I went around in a kind of daze. I couldn’t recall the facts – it was all a blank, I suppose it was the body’s way of getting me through it. My family and friends knew the truth, but they respected my wishes to move on. I pretended to myself, to everyone I knew, that all was well, that this person had been wonderful, just a bit erratic. He had, after all, loved me. He and I even kept in touch all these years. He would regularly check in, sending love on my birthdays and keeping me close. His success grew and grew. Journalists would occasionally turn up at my door asking me for comment, but I turned them away – there was no story to be found here.   Following the divorce, I threw myself into work, building a career in media. I set up my own company which was eventually acquired by a global corporation. All seemed well. But by the time I had hit my mid-thirties, I had started to notice that my voice was deteriorating. Against my will, it would break or sound wobbly, like I was having a nervous breakdown. After seeing a few consultants, I was diagnosed with a rare condition called vocal dysphonia, something that can’t be fixed, only treated. It was a devastating blow, as I felt I was no longer able to present myself as the convincing business woman I still felt I was inside.   My mind was finally being forced to catch up by my body . When I received the diagnosis and realised the severity of my condition, I wanted to understand the possible causes. There were a few, including genetic ones, but periods of great stress or damage to the vocal chords can also be triggers. I sought voice therapy as part of my treatment, and during the therapy the memories dredged up of the abusive relationship I had lived through. I had been physically strangled and had very nearly died at the hands of my ex husband. I had been silenced by his parents. I had gagged my true feelings for decades. Then, to top it all, I had lost my real, physical voice. I had never considered how important having a voice was; it represents who you are, it is the medium through which we communicate with the outside world: our ideas, our emotions and our own personalities. The voice is one of the defining facts of self and I had lost mine. The body indeed keeps the score. I decided to take action and, to cut to the chase, I approached the person who had caused such damage. I wanted to hear how sorry he was, after all these years. Was he truly repentant? Did he really understand the extent of the damage he had caused or had he also rewritten his past? It certainly looked that way. He had become a hero, a role model and an icon; someone that men, women and children looked up to. Under the glare of his fame, the options I had to seek justice appeared to be very limited. I could report him to the police. I had evidence – photographs, a written confession from him during a time in rehab shortly after our divorce. My lawyer confirmed he would probably charged, but there would be a high likelihood of the press finding out, and of my character being decimated in the press, both by his team and also the general public. He was adored human being. I did not want my family to endure the awful upheaval and stress.   The clearest option seemed to be a route through the civil system. This was a huge undertaking for me. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. It was nerve-wracking. My thought process veered from: Dare I do this? to How Dare I Do This? Was I going mad, or was I doing the right thing? I knew nothing about the legal system in this context. How would I know to pick the right lawyer? It was an enormous undertaking, but once I had started the process I found I couldn’t stop. I was fuelled by anger and sadness, but also by a need for change. If something similar ever happened to my 12 year old daughter, I knew I would march her to the police station to report the crime. I told myself I must do this for my younger self. In the event, I found a good lawyer. She seemed sympathetic to my case, and said the process would be cathartic. I believed at the very least my ex-husband would have to read all the witness statements, my own statement, see the photographs, perhaps finally understand what he had done and offer a proper, genuine apology. Was that not a powerful action in itself, to force the person who had caused you injury to look at his crime squarely and to understand that it can’t be erased? How naïve I was. There was to be no apology. The whole process took just a few months. Towards the culmination, his legal team asked for my medical records, to support their defence. I was disbelieving. I was the victim, he was the aggressor, yet was allowed to invade my privacy at such a level. What kind of a legal system was this?   The process culminated in a single day, where I attended the office of my legal counsel in Central London. The legal teams of the Defendant were in the room next door. The Defendant himself had dialled in from some remote location. The attitude was very much ‘poor guy, he has taken time out of his busy schedule for this nonsense’. A part of me felt guilty for having caused everyone so much trouble.   On that final day, things took a strange turn. My legal representatives seemed to be on the same side as the opposition. Both sides said repeatedly – “this is the deal, it’s a great deal, you won’t have another chance like this’ and so on. After 7 hours (for we were told – ‘this must be resolved today’), my brother (my key witness) and I were exhausted, ground down and strung out. Some sort of closure had to be achieved, otherwise I would really have genuinely wasted everyone’s time. A weary realisation came over me. I am a nice person, with a good moral compass, and I thought: I need to do the right thing here. A payment would be made. In turn I would sign an NDA. The NDA would commit me to a lifetime of official silence, but it would also reference the Defendant’s ‘treatment and behaviour’ towards the Claimant. Surely this was some sort of recognition, an apology of sorts? Surely the NDA was evidence of his guilt. That was something, was it not? But I had not considered how my right to speak was being legally removed by the man who had wronged me. He had won, and for a paltry sum, he had bought my silence and in doing so, now had lasting protection for his reputation and his career. Fast forward 9 months. I was in a local pub with some friends, and a friend of a friend, who I had never met, brought up my ex-husband. I think he was talking about his latest endeavour. He raved about what a brilliant person he was, what a great guy he was. I found my mouth opening, to put him right. Remembering the NDA, I closed it again. I was gagged.   I find myself even more stuck now and it’s a kind of purgatory. The blood money sits untouched in my account. I have not achieved anything after all, and most of all I did not even receive a true apology.   He could, at least have given me that. After all, due to the NDA, no one would have known but me.

Story 59

In 2009, I signed an NDA. I didn’t know what the document was or what I was signing. I had no lawyer and was diagnosed with PTSD because of workplace sexual harassment, bullying and rape. Human Rights of [province] said I had to sign to get some money. A Provincial program told me I had to cash in savings and pay the penalty, or I couldn’t get any money from this provincial program to pay my rent.   I was not given any time to negotiate the NDA. I tried to understand the processes of a provincial  Labour Relations Board and Human Rights Tribunal, but I could not find a lawyer and fell through the cracks in the system. My PTSD became worse. I experienced anxiety, made two suicide attempts and was afraid to leave my apartment. I never returned to full-time employment, and my 10-plus-year career as a skilled tradeswoman ended.   I had to apply multiple times to get government support. I did everything right to keep my job, but I was terminated. The man who raped me was well connected. The union told me to fill out a grievance and never supported my grievance. I worked with women and men who were bullied the same as myself. In 2022, I continue to meet women who walk off their job with the employer because of workplace sexual harassment and bullying.

Story 60

May 30, 2022   I was a contract professor at a Canadian university for 23 years. As most contract professors know, they are not paid on par with full-time or tenured professors even though the contract professors teach a full course load. Even though my course load was made up of three courses each semester, I was still considered part-time. When I started to ask for more certainty with course loads, I was suddenly given fewer courses to teach per semester. So I went to the union to see what could be done.   The union reps suggested filing a complaint and requesting monetary compensation for income loss. I agreed, but it was stressful. In addition, during union meetings, the Dean was demeaning my qualifications and teaching as a means to undermine me and intimidate me from my union-supported challenge.   In brief, I was eventually offered a settlement, but nothing near the monies deserved from an already lesser income or losses of future income. Why? My NDA included agreeing to never speak of the agreement publicly, including never to apply to teach at the University in the future. I was told that if I breached this agreement, I would be required to pay back the settlement. I was in a difficult situation.   Because of the loss of income, I had incurred debt and needed to pay my debts. I felt signing a one-page, very general agreement that the University made me out to be the ‘bad guy’, along with the far-reaching punitive approach- basically firing me for speaking out. I had to stop teaching- a career I enjoyed. This occurred in 2018. I know many other part-time contract professors have had similar experiences.

Story 62

First, I am allowed to share my story. It has most recently been determined that my NDA is lenient enough for this purpose. It is still very scary to share. I was sexually harassed and solicited at work by a person who had a great deal of power and control over me. A person that I trusted. A person who took away an opportunity when I refused his repeated advances. I didn't report to be silenced. I wanted to stand up for myself, and I wanted to make sure that it wouldn't happen again to someone else. It wasn't my fault. There is no reason for me to be ashamed. There was no reason for me to be silenced. It was more than a year from when I filed the complaint to when the NDA was signed. There had been a failed attempt at mediation five months earlier; I alleged I was shamed and blamed until I dissociated, but eventually I snapped back, and I stood strong and said no. Then, monthly, I put into writing what occurred. I wrote that I wouldn't participate in mediation again; that I wouldn't sign an NDA; that an NDA would be bad for my mental health and that I planned on sharing my story if it would help another woman. I asked for my own lawyer which I would retain at my own expense. (I was a former union member and didn't own the carriage of the grievance, and although I felt the union was partly responsible, I was not allowed either a support person or my own lawyer, even at my own expense.) We met (the company, union and me) for what I thought was arbitration; but when we gathered, the arbitration never started. I didn't think I could just walk out of this meeting. I said no to mediation and no to an NDA for more than 8 hours. After 9.5 hours I was broken. I wanted to go home. I was afraid of dissociating. I thought they would never let a hearing start. I was hungry. I was tired. I was traumatized. So I signed the NDA. The next day I asked to be released. I said they knew I didn't want an NDA, that I had said "no" enough times and that I was pressured into signing it. I was not released. I tried to break my way out of the NDA. I thought if I break it before I am given any money then I just won't receive the money and that will be that. I didn't care about the money, but the NDA made me feel dirty and gross. What happened the day that the NDA was foisted on me felt like non-consensual sex, it felt like an assault. It felt like I was violated. I felt like the NDA covered me in filth and I wanted desperately to get it off of me. I broke the NDA and told them, they ignored me and so I did it again. I never owned the carriage of the issue of the breach of NDA. I was summoned to a closed-door labour arbitration and forced to provide all the evidence against myself and then some. I had no standing. I wasn't allowed to know the pleadings. I was not allowed a defence. I was not invited to all of the hearings. I received the decision by email, regular mail and mail I had to sign for. The consequences were harsh. My NDA was not supposed to be strict and suddenly everything was deemed to be a breach. I became more afraid. It felt like the NDA was not only gagging me and dirty, it felt like it was choking me. I tried to have my NDA declared to be unconscionable due to having been made under duress, but I lost--not because my claims were found not to be credible but because it was decided that even if my version of events were true what I endured was an acceptable amount of pressure. Even though to me it felt non-consensual and like an assault and a violation, the law apparently said that the NDA was not unconscionable and invalid. I felt a huge weight on my shoulders. I felt like that this decision put women's rights back ten steps and that this was my fault. I considered taking the decision up the ladder, but found that this would cost me an arm and a leg. I felt re-traumatized every time I had to relive what happened. I had developed c-PTSD, and between the cost of continuing to fight and the toll on my mental health, I decided to throw in the towel. I felt like I had to choose between getting stuck in the past or moving forward with my life. I chose to move forward. I am proud that I tried to have the NDA declared invalid. I did make mistakes when trying to avoid the NDA after it was made, I hit back when I got hurt, and I was not the perfect victim (but who is?). I was stuck in a fight trauma response. I should have sought help to start the duress claim right away. Hindsight does no one any good. I am proud of how vocal I was about not wanting an NDA; I am proud of how hard I fought to avoid one. I don't blame myself for giving in at the end. What happened to me may not have been found to be duress, but it was past my personal threshold for endurable pressure, and I think I am strong. This experience has changed me forever. I have c-PTSD. I am afraid to have LinkedIn. I am afraid to write a resume or to answer questions in a job interview. I am afraid of talking to my counsellor or to my friends about what happened to me (including people who already knew and were my support on this journey).  I am afraid of running into a former co-worker. I am afraid of finding out it is happening to someone else and of not being able to warn or comfort them. I am afraid of being sued. I am afraid that if I am sued it will take place in private labour arbitration and I won't have standing. I have done my best to make lemonade out of all these lemons. I went back to school (got an advanced diploma with distinction and a diploma with high honours) and received two professional designations. I am now a member of a helping profession. I want to be a part of making this world a better place. There are so many ways in which I cannot be silenced. There is so much more I want to learn. I have become interested in feminism (intersectional) and examining patriarchy in our society. I have become interested in transforming the justice system and trauma informed legal services. I have become interested in the links between trauma and offenders and in studying psychology and false confessions. I have become interested in studying pressure, stereotypes and discrimination. I am also interested in movements to defund the police and in prison abolishment.  There is just so much more I want to learn. One day I will pursue these interests, and I will put what I learn to good use. I am already starting to use what I have learned for helping people. Our lawmakers need to step it up! I hope and pray that someday soon where I live a law is passed like the one in PEI. I know it is not enough to hope and pray, I have to ask my government representatives to do something. Thank you to Can't buy my silence. Keep up the good work. This was really scary to write, but I can confirm that nothing in this is a breach of my NDA. It is still scary. I am supposed to be allowed to tell my story, with a few limitations. Still scary. Thanks to all who have taken the time to read this. I hope I have made you feel normal and less alone.  

Story 63

I was bullied and harassed while working at a provincially funded regional disability centre in [province]. I filed a WSIB complaint which my employer failed to submit. I filed a formal notice of wrongdoing with the 'Ethics Executive' of the Board of Directors regarding both employment and financial wrongdoing that deprived disabled children of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mediation at the Human Rights Trial of [province] requires an NDA, seven lawyers refused to take my case unless I agreed to accept a $250K settlement and sign an NDA. The Provincial Human Rights Legal Support Centre refused to take my case and refused to fulfill a Freedom of Information Request. My human rights complaint took more than four years and found that my human rights were violated but failed to 'make right' and I have challenged the 'procedural fairness’.  I am now self-represented in a Judicial Review (since 2019).

Story 64

I was released from my employment without cause. I filed a complaint with Labour Canada and was reinstated by the adjudicator. My employer chose to be in non-compliance with the adjudicator's decision and refused to return me to the workplace for approximately 7 months, taking the position that I owe them for their decisions.  There has been no negotiating process. Dozens of non-represented long service employees were put through this program before they reached the necessary age and years of service to receive an unreduced pension.  There has been no negotiating of an NDA. My former employer’s position is that I will not receive my pension until I sign THEIR NDA and sign an agreement withdrawing ALL of my rights. I have now been retired for 48 months and have yet to receive a dollar of my earned pension.  They are also withholding severance pay and my vacation pay.  Approximately one year ago I hired a lawyer. In response to her letter, I received an offer of $20,000, take it or leave it. I did not respond. I have not and will not sign their NDA. I have had to borrow money from my family and friends in order to survive. I owe approximately $25,000 to various financial institutions. I am two months behind on my rent. I have not been able to purchase my diabetes medications on several occasions. Many of my utilities have been shut off on several occasions.  They know that the average person can not battle them in a court of law. They bully people into submission. Someone needs to hold these people accountable for the suffering they cause.  

Story 65

As part of my hiring agreement, in working for a health care authority, I was told that I could not talk publicly about the verbal and emotional abuse that I was put through by senior clinicians. When I went to my supervisor for support I was told that it was up to me to resolve the situation with this person. My only recourse was to allow this person to continue and ignore this person who was known to be narcissistic, but as I was a junior person in the environment, he made me the target of his actions. The end result for me was trying to push through the days (over 3 years). Eventually my mind would not take it and I spent 3 weeks in a local hospital as I had non epileptic seizures. This was 10 years ago and I am still not able to work, according to my psychiatrist and neurologist. There were other abuse situations that I and others in my work place "lived with". But in an environment that is funded by the government, the practice was to keep a "proper" image. I am on long-term benefits and CPP disability and still suffer the effects of the seizures. I would rather be working and living a fulfilling life. At the age of 57 now, it does not seem possible, as I am still broken.  

Story 66

My counsel advised that I settle, sign the Full and Final Release, withdraw my action for wrongful dismissal, infringement of my religious freedom, non-accommodation of mental health injury, and state that I was not bullied and harassed at work. My counsel said I have no case, I can or will lose at trial, or if I won, the monetary award will be less than the defense's settlement -- the defense will likely withdraw their offer because their case against me is strong. Counsel said I was abusing his time by my not agreeing to settle and sign the release.   We were going to have the mandatory mediation meeting in early 2020. As soon as we sat down in the mediation room, before we even met the mediator, counsel asked me to withdraw my bullying & harassment claims against the company's managers. Note that my counsel did not include bullying & harassment in my civil court claim, he said as a matter of strategy. After the mediation meeting, I instructed my counsel that "I accept the amount offered to settle my claim against my employer" but "without prejudice to my tribunal application against the individual managers." The defense rejected my counter-offer to settle. I instructed counsel to amend my claim by dropping my religious freedom and mental health injury claims in the action, move for summary judgment on my wrongful dismissal claim only. The defense asked that I pay in advance partial indemnity costs before they consent to my amendment, I paid the money to my counsel, he refused to pay the defendant, and the defendant did not consent to my amendment. My counsel kept suggesting I sign the release that specifically stated my religious freed was not infringed, I have no mental health disability claim, I was not bullied & harassed at my workplace. I asked to schedule my file for examinations. Counsel said the defense would not agree to an examinations date.Earlier this year, more than two years from the failed mediation meeting, I told my counsel I would go to the court, ask the court to force my own counsel and the opposing counsel to agree to an examinations date. Suddenly, the defense agreed to a mediation date. Currently, my counsel and the opposing counsel cannot decide whether my file should be heard under the simplified procedure or the ordinary procedure; my file could not be set down for trial yet. This affects me in such a way that, after more than three years after my wrongful dismissal, I have not been paid what the employer owes me under common law.   I was given a few minutes during the failed mediation to decide if I would withdraw my application at the human rights tribunal, or my counsel would not move my file forward and I should get a new lawyer. My counsel is not clear about dates for next steps, 2-1/2 years after the failed mediation. He only seemed clear in saying I was abusing his time by my refusing to settle, sign the release.   The impact of my not settling, not signing the release with NDA, is that more than three years after my wrongful dismissal (with 20 years of uninterrupted work for one and the same employer), I have not been paid what I'm owed under common law. I continue to be told that I have no valid claim for religious accommodation because I did not ask for such accommodation. I was told the company did not believe me and my doctor that I have need for mental health injury accommodation, because I was not under medication and not being seen by a psychiatrist   I told my counsel that I would be violating my conscience and will be telling a lie if I sign the release (with NDA) indicating that my right to religious freedom/Saturday weekly church day was not infringed, I had no mental health disability claim, and I was not bullied and harassed. When I finally was able to see a psychiatrist, only after I was terminated already, the psychiatrist said my condition was caused by the bullying and harassment that I experienced at the workplace. I asked my counsel if my employer breached it's duty to deal with me in good faith, if my dismissal was done in bad faith. Counsel said nothing changes their advice that I settle, not go to trial. This probably explains why after three years, my file still could not be set down for trial.   If I signed the release/NDA, my conscience will bother me for the rest of my life. To me, it would mean that I have failed to practice what I'd been taught and learned in 50 years of church regular attendance, when the rubber hit the road, I signed a false statement just to receive a little money from my former employer, and not hold to account the individual managers who bullied and harassed me, caused my mental health injury, disbelieved me and my doctor, and when I was about to be transferred out of my toxic workplace, they terminated me.   

Story 67

I am within days of signing an NDA. I was a whistleblower in 2019 on a Provincial Ministry that resulted in an ombudsperson report called Course Corrections. This was months before legislation to protect whistle blowers was passed, but if I had delayed taking action then thousands of students would have been negatively affected.  Fast forward to 2022. I am no longer employed and within days of a Human Rights Tribunal settlement and NDA that I've been told is standard. I don't want their money to buy my silence, but until I found your website I had thought that I had taken my fight to not allow the ministry or government to continue its ways as far as I could.   In my 15 years in gov't I had seen too many people leave in shame and beaten down. Even though I was leaving to protect my mental health, and fortunately I was in a financial position and had family support to be able to leave, this was not the case for others I had witnessed leaving. Long story short (is there such a thing?!), after LTDs, internal grievances and complaints, and complaining to an agency set up to handle such matters, (who said I was too late to have my case heard because of their change in policy that happened during my LTD and ongoing battle with my employer), I am in what I thought I was the dying embers of my situation, and yet I have maintained that the NDA would be counter to everything I've stood for. My lawyer has just told me that if I don't accept the settlement offer as it stands then the implication is that they will withdraw the offer. And then my recourse, he suggests, is to return to the HRT but that the cost of that will likely negate any financial gain. What no one seems to understand or hear is that at this point it is not about money, in fact, it never was.  This case is happening in live time. 

Story 68

I am a Canadian Police Officer who served in [federal police service] in [province] and majority with the [municipal] Police Service. I was a training officer, worked in the detective’s office, drug squad and homicide. After I came forward with a sexual harassment complaint about my Staff Sgt I was isolated and intimidated out of my workplace. I spent my own finances funding a Human rights case that lasted 6 years from start to finish. I was asked to sign three NDAs by the [municipal] police board as they told me there was no one else but me complaining about toxic workplace for women. I knew prior to my case of at least one who singed NDA and other policewomen during my case. I won a Landmark Human rights case as signing an NDA would not create the change I was looking for within policing. Since then, my precedent case is being used by multiple police officers and other employees for their human rights cases to not have to sign NDAs. It took the [municipal] police force 7 years to admit there is a system they keep separate that tracks these complaints however it is kept secret to protect the victims none of these are being filed under VICLAS where predators known or unknown of sexual abuses are to be reported to national database.

Story 69

In 2013, a fire fighter in the municipal fire department where I was employed  physically assaulted me, multiple times at work. I had been sexually abused and assaulted at work previously, but these assaults were very violent and broke me. I was too afraid to go to work anymore. I was the lone female fire fighter in the many fire stations that I worked at. Other fire fighters witnessed the many assaults and abuse and did nothing. I contacted the police and the fire fighter was charged. The city asked me to resign. I refused. The city’s investigation was exhausting and unprofessional. The union was of little help. A lawyer did an investigation interviewing me and all the male fire fighters. No one sided with me. I was exhausted and depressed. In reality, the abuse started in 2006 at the fire academy when my training captain sexually assaulted me. He was later charged by the police as well. Over 15 municipal fire fighters (men) haven bullied, assaulted me, and harassed me. I have spoken with other female fire fighters who are now off work due to harassment. We have some of the same perpetrators! This fire department is systematic in its abuse on woman. I am trying to keep my Human Relations Tribunal file open. It feels like my only leverage. I am receiving payment from the Workerplace Safety Insurance Board, and the municipality is challenging that decision. In 2018 after a ridiculous arbitration process \, that took over ten dates, the union threaten that if I did not sign the arbitration agreement, he would. The agreement has not yet been implemented. The city is claiming I received an excess of Long Term Disability payments and want me to give them $40,000.00. My settlement agreement states that I shall receive $50,000.00 for the violence I experienced and a letter of apology from the fire chief. I want out of my NDA and have already contacted both my lawyers working on my case. I have severe and chronic PTSD and speak with my psychiatrist on a weekly basis. The emotional toll on me since joining fire department has been very damaging. I self-isolate, I moved to a rural area to get out of the city due to being traumatized by hearing fire trucks. I miss my career but would never go back or recommend that anyone become a fire fighter anywhere.

Story 70

I was senior legal counsel at a government funded and controlled commission established to protect the vulnerable. Particulars of my story must remain anonymous due to solicitor client privilege and due to an NDA I signed. After discovering substantial corruption and substantiated allegations of sexual harassment within the institution, which I wrote up in a series of memos, I was summarily terminated. As a term of the release for severance, I was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. At the time I felt this was contrary to public policy to have a government entity require departing employees to routinely sign nondisclosure agreements.  

Story 73

Before filing a workplace harassment complaint, I tried communicating to my boss on several occasions to resolve our strained working relationship, but he refused. He was a local public official for the town. Part of my emotional breakdown was based on how he was treating me. I ended an adulterous relationship that occurred between us many months earlier. Over a period of time, I was experiencing hair loss and was very self conscious, I started wearing hair pieces that resembled my natural hair. At one point the local public official commented that he hates wigs and that they look fake. I felt like he disliked the way I looked and told him that I feel like he hates me. His response was, “I hate people sometimes.” He would point out my faults and stopped communicating with me on several occasions. It was very unprofessional and difficult to work under these circumstances. I needed open communication to do my job effectively. At this point I couldn’t function and was on stress leave for a short period. I spoke to the HR manager regarding complaints against my boss. She explained the process to file a workplace harassment complaint. I expressed my concerns about the integrity of the process. I pointed out, it was a known fact there was a close personal friendship between the local public official and the mayor. The local public official had admitted details of their relationship to me in confidence. I spoke about the CAO’s relationship with the local public official and provided confidential information to why I felt the CAO would be bias. She listened to my concerns but cautioned me that the outcome may not be what I expect. I understood the HR Manager’s position on this matter and her role to protect the Town. I filed a workplace harassment complaint against the local public official. I provided explicit emails and pictures from him that also included a sexual act he requested me to do for him. This act happened twice at the workplace on town time. He also requested explicit videos and pictures of me. I complied to his advances and did and said what he asked of me. A lengthy investigation took place. I spoke about everything that occurred. I explained that I felt vulnerable to the local public official. It was embarrassing and humiliating as I didn’t even like him that way, but I went along with it. When I put a stop to it, I was hoping that things would go back to normal between us. I did not falsify or exaggerate anything the local public official said to me or what occurred between us. During the investigation he blamed me, twisted the truth, and made up several false allegations to discredit my character. He even spoke about a theory as to why I reported him to HR. If the local public official really believed I was pursuing him, why didn't he say no. He was the person in a position of authority. The reason I felt pressured to sign a NDA is they returned the local public official (who was in my complaint) back to his position which was right beside my workstation. It was an unhealthy environment, and I was upset on a daily basis. From my perspective this was a tactic to get me to just quit. I regret not seeking legal advice earlier, as I now realize, my options at that time were limited. I was on the brink of an emotional breakdown. I was taking medication for anxiety and also losing my hair and knew I had to get my life back on track. I gave in and signed the NDA. Looking back, I regret it as I was not in my proper state of mind to make such an important decision.

Story 74

I was pressured into signing an NDA as part of my divorce settlement with my ex, a famous entertainer.   My own lawyer put me under unbelievable pressure to sign this NDA, giving me a few short hours in which to make the decision to restrict my voice for the rest of my life. I tried to get my lawyer to negotiate the language of the NDA so it was more specific about what it did not allow me to do so it would be clear what I WAS allowed to do. But he refused, which predictably for years had me terrified about making a move and checking with lawyers at every turn if this or that was OK, costing me money in legal fees each time.

Story 75

  I'm a solicitor and I've always loved being a lawyer.    I've also experienced every type of sexual harassment and discrimination there is, until I'd become so desensitised to it that I thought it was normal to get so drunk in hotel bars you ended up in bed with whoever had taken you out on expenses. The weight of the shame I carried still haunts me now and I always thought if I just work a bit harder and longer people will forget the gossip or look past the fact I was perceived as a hot mess.   I was raped when I was a trainee by a QC who forced oral sex on me in my kitchen. I couldn't say anything because I would have woken my housemates and I was so embarrassed. I never told anyone, although it was common knowledge this man fancied me and would try to get me on my own or insist on sharing cabs with me. No one seemed to try to stop that by pairing up with me or giving me money for black cabs after a boozy work night out which I couldn't afford.   I ended up so confused that this man became my mentor, and again I felt so guilty that I was seen with him as if everything was fine, but I couldn't admit what he'd done to me at that point. I've experienced or seen harassment at every law firm I've worked at. In one instance, I was asked to sign an NDA at one medium city firm after being made redundant. I had been kissed on the lips at that firm by a male partner. It was an entirely uninvited assault, which was witnessed by. other more junior lawyers, and once again I felt embarrassed and humiliated. The NDA clause was presented as part of standard settlement terms, but I was offered slightly more money because of what I had experienced.  I did not think that asking to refer the gagging cause was something that I could consider. When I first heard about  the me too,  movement my internalized misogynistic reaction was "grow up" and "worse things happen to others." I only realized afterwards that my response was fueled by what had happened to me.   I've moved on and I now work as an in-house lawyer,  but I still experience trauma, PTSD and considerable regret over a life half-lived in my late twenties and early thirties in a cycle of over-work, client entertainment and numbing with free booze (which felt like the only perk of the job).

Story 76

I signed an NDA in my settlement in 2001. I had been health and social policy researcher/adviser in regional government. A newly appointed chief of staff (for whom I had not worked and had never met him before that time) dismissed me after conducting a so-called review of staff in which he met with most staff members but not with me. I subsequently made a complaint under regional Equal Opportunity law to the regional Civil and Administrative Tribunal, alleging that the chief of staff had discriminated against me in that he met with male colleagues on the same level as me but not with me. I also later alleged indirect discrimination and sexual harassment. The claim of sexual harassment was not originally made as my lawyer said it was two-edged and could cause difficulties. However we included in the original claim that there was a “blokey atmosphere” in the workplace in which jokes by men about women and sex were common, for example. A judge later ruled that this constituted a claim of sexual harassment and either had to be made as such or omitted, so I made a separate sexual harassment claim with more details. The case was eventually settled just before hearing in 2001. It was effectively settled as a wrongful dismissal. The settlement contained a non-disclosure clause, but it was not very clearly worded and arguably only prevents me from showing anyone the actual document. Some of the terms were leaked at the time (I don’t know by whom or why).  The worst aspect of the secrecy is that the apology that was made to me was private - it should have been public. In my later work I have come into contact with one of the perpetrators and it has been a source of awkwardness to me and affected my career in that there has never been a public apology by him, and I’ve felt very constrained in my relationship with him. He is not in a direct relationship of authority with me but is very influential in the sphere in which I work. If he had publicly apologized and wished me the best at the time, as he should have, it would have cleared the air and saved me a lot of awkwardness and some curtailment of my opportunities as a consequence. The NDA has been a hindrance and a weight in my professional career. NDAs should be banned. I’m very much opposed to NDAs for all the reasons you list. My case could easily have been settled with an agreed statement of facts and public apology. I can see that agreeing not to make further damaging statements or claims outside the agreed statement of facts could be relevant but even that would have to be carefully worded so as not to prevent legitimate follow up.

Story 77

Bullying and Abuse in the Media   People may think the days of physical attacks on people in the media are behind us. They are wrong about what the industry is like today. Bullying and abuse are still rife in broadcasting. My editor abused me. For years, it was always verbal, carefully orchestrated and behind closed doors, while in front of colleagues, a deceptively cordial impression - often even accompanied by laughter - was uncomfortably left. But the abuse eventually crossed a line that led to PTSD. Laughter, in this case, wasn't the best medicine. No one, not even the union, dared to challenge the manager as they had a hold over the entire office. I was forced to battle alone. Witnesses who saw the abuse turned a blind eye, unwilling to speak up for fear of consequences to their careers. Ultimately, I was victorious. I received compensation for lost earnings and the impact on my career. But I was forced to sign a lengthy NDA. Currently, I am verifying whether the NDA in my case still stands in the light of recent changes in policy and the law. I am hopeful that survivors of abuse can tell their truth in one institution, at least, without fear of financial repercussions.

story 78

I'm an old gal!! I've been working in male dominated fields my entire life. The consequences of accepting and allowing sexism needs to end. And that starts with me. Courage. The system is rigged against us. HRdepartments, which I've been part of for decades, have one interest in mind: their liability. I'm now, once again, experiencing sexual harassment, broader harassment and humiliation, and enough is enough. I'm going to gather up the courage to fight. I will not sign an NDA to allow the perpetrators of this crime to hide behind my employer. For my child, for the younger women who will contribute, likely more than others, to the best interest of their companies and projects, I will fight. I've always known my purpose at times in life. This one was clear, to be the voice of those who haven't found theirs. To the victims who have suffered in silence, I'm here for you, and I'm going to fight the fight!! Enough IS Enough!!!  

Story 79

I worked for a very well known Department store chain in UK, on the buying team. The men used to rate their Top 5 women, including the male leaders. The business had a toxic ‘boys club’ culture. I had issues with my female boss which I felt were linked and she became jealous of whether we were in the ‘Top 5’ or not & ridiculous things like that. I was put on a PIP and I did everything they asked. I started to see HR, confidentially, fortnightly & they made a lot of notes. One day I got a call to come up to HR for a chat, one of the Directors was there, who I had worked with for years, he said this work environment can’t be nice for you, with your manager and you not getting along anymore. He pushed a letter and a settlement agreement to me including an NDA and said, leave now, don’t go back to your desk, you’ve got 3 days to respond. I said, this is ridiculous and so upsetting, I’ve been here for 4 years and I work hard. I have been seeing HR for months, the Head of HR was in the room and said ‘we have no record of that.’  I said, I got sexually assaulted on a work trip in HK and the guy texts me saying things like ‘I’m watching porn in my office, thinking about you, come see me.’  The Head of HR said ‘I think you need to grow up a little bit.’  And the meeting was over. I got £3k and it changed my career forever. I’ve since seen an anonymous Instagram page created for people to write about their experiences in the fashion world & I noticed this person and company were mentioned many times. It’s shocking, remembering it’s not even high fashion, just ‘Britain’s Favourite Department Store.’

Story 80

I call the scar on my throat "my leaving present" from the media organization I worked for. For eighteen months I threw up almost every day, from fear and misery. I knew I was being driven out, bullied, belittled, ridiculed, undermined, threatened. It was just a matter of time how long I'd stick it out. Eventually I gave in and accepted "a voluntary redundancy" with of course an NDA.   The few weeks after I left were in some ways the worst because I was convinced I'd never work again. The nausea got worse. One day I woke up with no voice, just a croak. For the next four years my voice cracked and broke. Eventually surgery restored some function to my vocal cords, most likely damaged by all that throwing up. I wasn't the first. I knew others had "left" because of similar behavior by those running our team. At least one of our bosses has built a fantastic and lucrative reputation which bears no resemblance whatsoever to their day to day behavior.   Layer upon layer of NDA's has protected them for years. I've since spoken to others who endured similar behavior more recently in the same organization. There's an especially profound hypocrisy in the media. The role of journalism is to hold power to account, expose wrongdoing, shine a light into the dark corners of abusive workplaces. And it all stops at the doors of the newsrooms and production companies.   I didn't work in my part of the industry for 2 years and wasn't sure I ever would. Slowly I was drawn back in and eventually offered a job. It took me a while to stop bracing for the open criticisms, the snide comments, the weary contempt. I realized I was working with a team who actually liked and respected each other. I had bosses who were consistent, coherent, supportive and sane. They have quite literally given me my voice back.  

Story 81

In November 1997, I signed a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) for past sexual abuse during my childhood. Although it has been more than 25 years since my civil court case, and my abuser has since died, when I went to have my NDA lifted in the BC courts in 2018, the judge denied my request. The judge determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove psychological damage from the NDA.  After I lost my case in 2018, I had to go to the hospital as I became suicidal. Thankfully, I received help for my diagnosis of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for past childhood sexual abuse. Although the psychiatric community has learned quite a lot about the long term effects of childhood sexual abuse, it is obvious that the judges and the legal community still remain very, very, very ignorant about the damage that sexual abuse does to a child’s body and mind. I often ask myself: why does the legal system, as well as many of our institutions, continue to be so ignorant? And the answer is really very simple: it is because, over and over again, the legal system continues to protect abusers, and especially in the case of incest, or sexual abuse within the home. In fact, I don’t need to prove that abusers are protected. In fact, I have literal physical evidence that abusers are protected in the form of my Nondisclosure Agreement from 1997, and that a quarter of a century later, I still cannot speak a great deal of truth about my own childhood. The 5th commandment of “Honor thy Father and Mother”, as Alice Miller so famously argues in her book THE BODY NEVER LIES, still remains sacrosanct, no matter what your father and mother might do to you. And this 5th commandment still deeply influences our culture when it comes to speaking out about abuse, as many of our authority figures in employment, sports, volunteer organizations, in a sense, become parental figures against whom we must not question or speak out against. As a result, abusers remain protected, and will remain so, until laws in Canada (as well as other nations of the world) stop protecting them in the form of secret Nondisclosure Agreements. The abuse that happened to me as a child has long been over, and I have processed my abuse through a long-term relationship with a wonderful therapist who has had a 40 year long career of helping people recover from childhood sexual abuse. And I will continue to go to therapy, take my medication, and take care of myself as I am aware that the CPTSD diagnosis is never going away. Science has learned so much about the devastating and lifelong effects of sexual abuse on a child’s nervous system. I have learned that I must accept that as part of my fate. However, what I do NOT accept is the fact that the legal system itself has been the far greater abuser in my life. Indeed, had there not been the Nondisclosure Agreement in my case in 1997, then my abuser might have had to confront their own issues, and seek therapy (perhaps even for their own childhood sexual abuse). Every single human being on the planet must acknowledge the truth about ourselves in order to heal. The legal system allowed my abuser to bypass that very important process, as well as abdicate their fiduciary duty as a parent, with their power and their wealth. And even though my abuser has been dead for several years, the legacy of their abuse continues to be upheld by the legal system in the form of the NDA. The lie, therefore, is protected. As a result, my entire family is affected and still continues to be abused by a lie that the legal system refuses to face. And that lie is, of course, that sexual abuse does happen to children in families. As a result, no child is safe in this world as long as the legal system continues to uphold what is, in fact, possibly one of the greatest evils we know: the abuse of children. It is very clear that the abuse of children is a very large problem in our world, no matter the country. Children lack so many of the very basic human rights, and continue to be starved, killed, or trafficked every single day. I consider my Nondisclosure Agreement to be concrete evidence of ongoing extermination of children in this world. And in many ways, the NDA and the legal system are far greater abusers than my own individual abuser was. Therefore, until Nondisclosure Agreements (NDAs) are made illegal in Canada, and especially in the cases of childhood sexual assault, Canada remains complicit in the ongoing abuse and deaths of children in our world, as far as I‘m concerned.

Story 83

This notice concerns the way I was treated by management [of a multinational pharmaceutical company in two countries] after I reported sexual harassment from my leader. I was subjected to extensive reprisals and three months after the notice I was called to a meeting with management. I was not informed of the meeting agenda in advance. Subjected to pressure and lies to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) Meeting in 2009 I was deprived of work duties: The Business Unit Manager began the meeting by saying that I could not continue at the [specific] department. The trial scheme by which I reported to her was not working optimally as she was unable to follow up on me in the way that she should. They also say that it is not good for me to work in the same team as the manager who subjected me to harassment. No other options in the company: HR then goes on to say that the company has searched hard to find other roles for me but unfortunately there are none. He says he also investigated my options to take on the particular Key Manager position that I had applied for. Unfortunately, due to strong external candidates, my prospects did not look bright there either (translation of verbatim quote). I had applied for the positions which had been advertised there since October. A non- disclosure agreement (NDA) was put on the table with an exceptionally short deadline  I had to respond by [deadline]. If I did not respond before then, the company would not guarantee the contents of any new NDA. The management did not write a report from either this or the other meeting with me. From the pressure I broke down in tears and had difficulty collecting myself again. It was difficult for me to make my way from the meeting room to the car park, meeting my colleagues in the hall. Between then and the following Monday, I contacted the general manager, Business Unit Director and HR and asked them to find another solution. I was simply referred to the NDA and the deadline. All doors closed! My choice was between staying at the company with no duties or future prospects or signing the NDA. Ultimately, I signed the NDA against my will. Lies: Two days later I was called by the recruitment agency and it was confirmed to me that I was still a candidate for the particular Key Management position. I have it in writing from both the hiring manager in the company and the recruitment agency that HR never contacted them regarding my prospects for that position. In reality, it was an unjustified dismissal hidden in an NDA. Sexual harassment is an abuse of power, as are NDAs imposed on women who speak up about this unhealthy culture. I refuse this treatment and break the NDA. Senior management should be a role model by visibly demonstrating support. I sought help via Integrity line to report misconduct by the management in [the country where I was mistreated]. Besides a brief phone call with a compliance officer none have shown interest in my version. What is the value and credibility of the Integrity line, when Human Resources doing an in-depth investigation, only contact the management who the complaint concerned? As a whistleblower, I was ignored every time I contacted the company and got neither insight into the investigations nor the opportunity to defend myself. I was treated like a person of no value. The management continued the harassment. … I submit that the manner in which senior management referred to me during the investigation of this case is sexually demeaning and in that sense I submit that I was subjected to sexual harassment. The company was very much aware of the statement made by my leader. This statement was included in my initial report/complaint. During our conversation relating to the redundancy, my leader started laughing whilst explaining that he had observed a few phallic-looking mushrooms for which I could simply lower myself onto. This version is the correct version and is supported by a written statement by my doctor, whom I met immediately after my leader’s statement. The company characterises first this statement as unwanted sexual attention using the same definition as used by the preparatory legislative works relating to sexual harassment. This states that in defining sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual attention one avoids that the offending party exonerates himself in stating that he did not perceive the action as harassment. Sexual harassment by management, the company states in its notice of response that [the person] has a humour that may be characterised as being a bit suggestive. The company further describes that even though the conversation was serious and related to a redundancy process [attempts were made to] cheer up [the person]. In its account to the equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman the company summarises that at a certain level, there must also be acceptance in the workplace for careless remarks without it breaching the Act in the legal sense. The company claims that I was a person who could give and receive such light-heartedness. The company further confirms this perception of me in a statement to the ombudsman stating that as far as [the person] is concerned, he did not mean to offend me and he maintains that the light-heartedness between [the person] and him were of such nature. … In other words, the company is of the opinion that I am a person who will accept such crude statements. This is despite the fact that I have put forward a formal complaint about an issue that the company also determines as sexual harassment. As such I feel that the company is further continuing a behaviour I believe to be sexually harassing by repeating the impression my manager initially gave about me. This is to ridicule the grounds for my public complaint/report and exposes a complete lack of respect of my boundaries. With such an attitude to sexual harassment I can see why so few … formally report behaviour of this kind. The company obviously feel that such comments should be acceptable in the work place and that an employee should allow for this kind of behaviour. The fact that I subsequently reported this behaviour means that I am subjected to the company’s repeated characterisation of myself as a person who will accept such light-heartedness. This attitude by the company can hardly be said to be in line with zero-tolerance to sexual harassment. The concept of zero-tolerance is an absolute and is equally applied. The company management cannot subsequently determine who shall benefit from this concept and who should accept such behaviour. Company management should regardless hold itself above such behaviour. They have a duty in accordance with local employment legislation to ensure that sexual harassment in the workplace does not occur. That the statements made about me stem from company management are undisputed and the lawyer’s letter to the ombudsman says company management more or less, shifts the blame for my managers lack of ethical behaviour to me. This kind of behaviour on the part of management only compounds their disregard of whistleblowing in relation to sexual harassment. When the whistleblower is counteracted, loses their job and even suffers harassment from management, the problem is more substantial than a manager who steps over the line. It becomes an issue of culture. To me it seems as if this negative culture permeates GSK in its entirety, from senior management down, given that senior management accepts this treatment of a whistleblower. A large number of managers and executives were informed about this case. After ten years as an employee of the company, I received an employment reference from the manager who harassed me. It states that I left my job on my own initiative and that he gives me his best recommendations. This action proves that the harasser is allowed to continue his career and has the management’s confidence to execute personnel responsibilities, and that I who notified this behaviour was fired. I have taken my case to the ombudsman. They state that they understood that I did not want an NDA, but that the NDA is a way for the company to solve a difficult problem. In court the company claims that the NDA is an obstacle to making claims for compensation. The company states that by entering into the NDA, the right to subsequently claim that there has been a breach of the relevant Act has been waived, and so too has the basis for making a claim for compensation. The NDA made me totally lawless. My greatest wish now is to move on with my life. I have been all alone in this case and it has left its mark on me. People who are harassed become anxious about the assumption that the world is a good place to be, and that the world is meaningful and fair. Loss of dignity causes physical pain. I feel it all the time, day and night. I hope you can help me to get light on this story in the media. My hope is that also the country where I was harassed will be woken to the misuse of NDAs. I have written letters to different departments in the government - but the answers is, for the time, negative to regulate misuse of NDA. The entire proceedings have been in writing and I have all documentation available. These documents show clearly how I have been treated. As elsewhere in the pharmaceutical sector, it is important to be 100% transparent.

Story 82

I was asked to sign an NDA on my first harassment file, negotiated by the national agency […for which I worked …] and union rep. I was a non-member. There was literally no negotiation, and they held the trump cards. I wasn't given much time to go over the situation. It was more or less settle or less. They broke part of the agreement issues in the following 2 years. Another harassment / bullying file. Was off work due to stress resulting from this bullying, was not allowed to go back into work on required date, and met with a member to negotiate. He refused my verbal requests. The union advised I was to settle for what they thought was a reasonable offer. For their second harassment I should have held out for a stronger settlement. But it was a take it or leave it situation. I still suffer from the fact that I have become a "Chattel" of Silence of the national agency. I cannot understand why they were not at fault right through this whole process. They were only protecting their interests and trying to avoid any publicity.

story 84

I took on a new role with an organization in Canada a while ago. In Canada, organizations do not have to pay severance if you are let go during your probationary period. About one week before the end of my probationary period, my employer found out that I am gay. The day before the end of my probationary period, I was terminated. My manager said they did not have to give me severance pay because it was before the end of the trial period, but they would give me a couple of thousand dollars in severance if I signed an NDA. At the meeting, they had the cheque & the NDA on the table. They had done this before and were prepared for it. The NDA stated I could never speak out against the organization publicly. However, I did sign it because I needed the money, and they let me go out of the blue. I had a single income, no partner, and no savings to support myself. The next day after speaking with former coworkers, I found out I was not the first person they had done this to, and they have a reputation for firing people one day before the three-month trial period cut off. I do feel like I was fired for being gay. The staff is very conservative and toxic. Because I signed the NDA, I can’t speak to the media. I hope the laws with NDAs change and organizations that do wrong are investigated.

story 86

Even though I haven't signed a formal NDA, nor have my university tried to ask me to sign one as they are part of the Can't Buy My Silence pledge, I have been silenced and punished from the moment I made the disclosure. At the time, I disclosed what happened to four close friends, and the university threatened them. They were told they could lose their position if they told anyone, as it would be seen as spreading 'misinformation.' As a result, they no longer supported me with this. I disclosed what happened to the perpetrator's partner. This led to him falsely reporting me for harassment, me receiving a 7-week suspension from an aspect of the university and an investigation. Upon the day of the investigation meeting, they decided it was no longer relevant and did not listen to my evidence which showed he had lied. He faced no consequences. My perpetrator also falsely reported me to the police for harassment and told them that we had been told we could not disclose any information to anyone. Upon bringing this to the university's attention, they decided it was not misconduct under their policies and took no action about his lie to the police about an NDA being in place. Again, he faced no consequences. While I have not signed an NDA, I have been silenced by my university and have actively been punished for trying to speak out. His actions from one night hurt me. The university's actions over the past 20 months have destroyed me.

Story 85

My workplace applies automatic NDA's to every investigation into an employee's conduct. My workplace is also incredibly toxic and gossipy. Gossip, rumours and misinformation are rampant. As someone recently said to me, we have a work culture that "celebrates others failures." I believe she hit the nail on the head with that statement. This needs to change. Our union supports NDA's, and we are told by both the employer and the union that we will get in trouble if we speak to others about any investigation we are or have been involved in. Now, I do agree that there needs to be some confidentiality during an investigation to protect the integrity of the process, preventing employees from colluding. As an employee, you should admit if you do something wrong and move forward.  Unfortunately though, our employer does not investigate nor apply discipline uniformly. NDA's after the fact cover this up. We cannot talk about our experience, therefore eliminating the ability to "compare notes." I believe in my case, in order to harass, bully and silence an out-spoken employee. There is no in-house recourse. Gagging me with a NDA after the one-sided investigation that cherry-picks what information they can use against you. The NDA's give them the ability to get away with poor investigatory processes, and the ability to discipline one employee for something that another does not get disciplined for. No accountability. They do have a reporting line that is useless. I reported to it, and nothing was done. I have now reported it to the Human Rights Tribunal and the misconduct and sexist behaviour is now being properly challenged. Unfortunately I am one of the few that have stood up to this employer. When it comes time that my employer possibly wants to settle before a trial, I will now never sign a NDA with this knowledge about the CBMS movement. Not only is it something I want abolished from my workplace, but also to see NDA’s limited globally to support and not re-victimize those subjected to bullying and harassment.    

Story 87

I have been asked to sign a non disclosure agreement as a result of court action I initiated regarding workplace abuse that resulted in me having to leave employment to ensure my physical and emotional safety. As well as workplace abuse, including assault, I was also financially exploited with several breaches of the relevant award. The process of negotiating the NDA has been extremely difficult and after 5 months is still not yet concluded. I was expecting a simple confidentiality and non disparagement agreement as had been discussed in the mediation process. The first draft of the settlement was a real shock to me. I experienced the draft deed as extension of the coercive control and abuse I had experienced in the workplace. It was long, complicated and contained severe restrictions on my life. For example it included a clause saying that I was to have no contact in any form with anyone I had worked with during the whole time of my employment. Several of my colleagues had become my friends and some I worked with I knew prior to employment with this employer. It was unacceptable to me that my previous employer could prevent me from continuing friendships with past colleagues. There was also a clause saying that I agreed to consent to an injunction in the court if they alleged a breach - this felt very intimidating as my past experience with this employer was that they were highly reactive and controlling. I was very fearful that I could be dragged in to court over any perceived inference of anything. This was particularly concerning for me as I wanted to work in the area of law reform and advocacy surrounding the type of abuse I had experienced. I felt that it was important for my healing from the effects of the abuse that I turn the very negative experience into something good and helpful for others. The whole deed read as if the perpetrator of the abuse was the victim who needed protecting from me. Their lawyer was making allegations that I was out to destroy them and their company. Rather than feeling like the matter was finally completed and over it felt as if this deed would allow the perpetrator of the abuse to continue to have control over my life, for the rest of my life. The whole process of negotiating this deed has been highly stressful with threats of withdrawing the settlement offer, lowering the amount agreed for settlement if I do not agree to terms, which I believe are breaches of my basic human rights such as right of association and the right to do work of my own choosing. I suffer from PTSD as a result of the abuse I experienced in that workplace and the continued stress of this process exasperates my symptoms. I am in a position where I do not know whether I will receive the settlement agreed in principle in the mediation or will be paying more than I can bear in legal fees proceeding to court. This lack of financial certainty is impacting my life decisions. The ongoing legal fees of negotiating this deed are crippling and adding to the pressure I am experiencing.

Story 89

When I was a little girl, I was sexually assaulted by a member of the church. I filed a civil suit in the early 1990s, and we went to mediation in the late 1990s. I signed a NDA, which were pretty standard at the time. I think that because it was before the internet, I was not aware that I had the option to perhaps challenge that. Besides, the church had a lot of power and control in society in those days. Following the signing of the NDA, I found out that a bishop in the United States declared all NDAs null and void. As a result, I wrote to the bishop of the diocese of a Canadian city and requested to be released from my NDA because I was keeping a secret that wasn’t mine to keep. The request was approved. It was then that I reported childhood sexual abuse by a member of the chruch to the police, and a criminal investigation ensued. Following the trial, I learned that a police report from the 1960s had been misfiled. I was successful in reopening my civil suit. The only requirement upon signing the document during mediation was that I not disclose the amount of money I received (except to family and professionals (therapists, lawyers, doctors, police, etc.). In hindsight, I now realize that the original NDA did not preclude me from going to the police. I was naïve back then, and there was little media or other awareness around NDAs. The internet, IMHO, has helped educate survivors, and helped us to organize (and fight back).

Story 90

I haven't officially been asked to sign an NDA yet but it's being very strongly mooted as a deterrent for trial as I am being told it will be very difficult to prove the events. Currently the process is extending an already very long and drawn out process spanning almost 13 years. I am still at the stage before any formal approach, which basically constitutes threats and intimidation tactics. I will never sign (an NDA). The experience of being silenced throughout an extensively delayed internal investigation process has already had critical effects on my health and contributed to life changing illness. Along with the fact that I was already bullied for whistleblowing; being paid off to be silent would only make me ill again and really never evolve from being part of the problem. There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you" Maya Angelo, 1970 ...No one else could phrase it better than Maya...

Story 91

I worked at this particular university for almost 23 years, 10 as a casual, 13 as a tenured academic. Around 20 months ago I crashed very suddenly with very severe burnout due to a toxic workplace culture (unsustainable, workloads, incessant change, erosion of both staff conditions and student experience, a punitive culture). I was the workplace NTEU delegate for 7 years and had seen the number of staff needing assistance grow as the conditions worsened. I was a mess, and after 5 months of sick leave my GP and EAP counsellor both felt that returning to work was not an option as the conditions that led to my burnout had, if anything, become worse rather than better. I negotiated to be paid out the 6 month notice I was required to give when resigning, and the deed of separation and release included not only a non-disclosure clause, but also a clause that stated that I could not divulge the contents of the deed, or even its existence. I went to my branch of the NTEU wanting to have these clauses removed, but they simply told me that these clauses were now standard and if I insisted on having them removed my payout would be refused (by the by I was very disappointed overall with the lack of support I received from the Union). To not be able to talk about the cause of my burnout or the terrible conditions my friends/colleagues are dealing with has contributed to the delay in my recovery, especially as I have seen others suffer burnout and other stress related mental and physical health issues since I resigned.   In answering those 4 questions: *Why were you being asked to sign an NDA? I have no idea. I was told that this was standard practice to have a NDA clauses, and if so it says a lot about how aware HR and senior management are of the poor conditions and their exposure to workers comp/class action/public shaming. * What was the process of negotiating the NDA like and how did it affect you? Terrible. I was so unwell that I was in no fit state to be battling this, and the NTEU was next to useless. *How much time were you given to decide what to do? In all honesty I can't recall. So much of all that is a blur as I was in such a mess *What was the impact on you and your life after signing an NDA? As noted above, to not be able to talk about the cause of my burnout or the terrible conditions my friends/colleagues are dealing with has contributed significantly to the delay in my recovery, especially as I have seen others suffer burnout and other stress related mental and physical health issues since I resigned.  

Story 92

I was asked to sign an NDA by a famous, reputable, post secondary school in New York City. I reported sexual harassment to the school many times and experienced something called "severe institutionalized gaslighting" by the school. The coercion/ gaslighting became so severe I eventually needed to seek medical/ professional psychological treatment for the constant abuse. When I started this treatment I was handed an NDA. I was expecting severe panic attacks and was unable to perceive consensual reality (according to my therapist). The school also had a history of sexual abuse from staff and faculty. This had been recorded by prior students. For some reason, no one in authority has ever looked into them for their abuse and they still teach and operate today. I am in the process of have my NDA invalidated. This agreement is ruining my life and state of being. It affects every aspect of my life and I know in order to heal, I need this agreement gone.

Story 93

I am a retired member of the RCMP, when I retired I was forced to sign a NDA as part of my retirement. The reason was likely due to protect the Force from any future questions b concerning the treatment of my wife and other issues that I was complaining at that time 1993/1997/2000.

Story 94

I worked for a large department store in the UK in 2018 and felt forced to sign an NDA. I had no help from my union and went through the process alone. I had only just joined the store and was being texted my shifts each week. My second week I hadn't been sent my shifts and I didn't chase them as I was reporting my sexual assault to the police and it was a really traumatic period. I was then told off for not having chased them for my shifts even though it was my supervisors responsibility to share the shift patterns with the team. I had a meeting in the office and once I had disclosed that I had reported my sexual offence to the police they said 'you have a lot going on right now, it's best you don't work here'. They then didn't pay me what I was owed for 6+ months and would only pay me if I agreed to sign the NDA. I was young and didn't know my rights and was unsupported. I know now I should have challenged them and refused the NDA. My pay was withheld until I signed the NDA. The NDA was for me not to talk about my employment or treatment and not to talk about the 6 months it took to get the pay I was owed and that it was only paid in cash following me signing the NDA. I had to go in-store to pick up the envelope of cash. It really impacted me in following jobs as I was terrified I would be let go if they found out I was a victim of rape. It also financially impacted me as I had to wait so many months to receive the pay I was owed.

Story 95

A number of years ago I made a complaint against a senior person in my organisation. During this process I was legally silenced, so I can’t share details. But what I can share, is the experience of being silenced. WHEN I FIRST MADE MY COMPLAINT... I was in a situation I had never been in before, and I was very shaken up. I wasn’t able to fully comprehend what it would mean to be silenced. I remember having a fleeting thought, it’s a bit weird I’ll never be able to speak about my experience. But I also felt some relief, as I knew silence would give me privacy, and I was feeling a lot of shame about the behaviour I had been subjected to. The silence provided me with a false sense of closure and I thought if I couldn’t talk about my experience, maybe I could just pretend it had never happened and move on.  AFTER ABOUT A YEAR... I hadn’t moved on, and I could feel I was still carrying the experience with me. By now I had processed what had happened, and I was ready to talk about it with my family and friends. It was depressing that I couldn’t. I wondered if there was something wrong with me, and if other people who have been silenced are able to fully heal and move on with their lives? I realised I had been put in a position where I would always have to withhold a part of myself from the people closest to me, and I felt very isolated. AFTER A COUPLE OF YEARS... I found out the person I made a complaint against had secured a leadership role at another organisation. This was very traumatic for me. I was distressed about all the people working with him. And because of my confidentiality obligations, there was nothing I could do or say. All the emotions I had suppressed started coming up. I was crying every day, my sleep was disturbed, I had anxiety and I couldn’t tell people why I wasn’t coping. I was intimidated by the legal consequences if I broke my silence. I felt trapped and powerless. I went to my doctor and was put on antidepressant medication. I told my doctor I wasn’t able to talk about my experience with family and friends because I had been silenced, and she had a strong reaction. It started to click to me that it wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t heal, and there are health impacts when you silence someone. I also started to wonder how many other people have had the same experience as me, where they’ve made a complaint, been silenced, and then seen the silence is protecting their abuser. NOW... it’s been years since I made my complaint. I’m still on medication and managing depression and anxiety. I think back a lot to the beginning. I never would have agreed to be silenced if I knew the long-term impact it would have on my health, my personal relationships, and the safety of others. It should be over by now; I should have healed and moved on with my life. The reason it isn’t over, is because I was silenced.

Story 96

First of all, I have to express my admiration towards Zelda Perkins for being so brave. I really admire her for establishing a new career as an advocate for banning the NDAs that are really harming the small people yet keeping the powerful misconductors in power.  My story does not include sexual misconduct. However, NDA in my case was used to cover bullying in my workplace.   I am working in ICT industry as a Test Manager. I was working on ERP project and targeted by a colleague. He tried to push me work that did not belong to me and I tried to set boundaries. Eventually our relations got so bad that he swore at me in a teams meeting. I reported his conduct to my superior. Instead of taking my side and solving the issue which the employer is supposed to do by the Finnish law, I found myself very alone in the situation. My version of the events was not believed. Instead, I was guided to use the mental services of the company's health care. Only after I had attended those, I would be able to "clear my name". I was also suggested a lower salary, being suggested that I was too sensitive etc. Basically, they used all possible methods so that I would resign myself.   Eventually I was approached with a possibility to sign an NDA. I was so shaken that I took the offer almost immediately. I was told by my superior that the offer is not available for long. I asked how long and she said that I have to decide in one week what to do. I saw no future in the company. I was paid a small lump sum for being quiet. I can't speak evil about the company publicly nor privately. Can't speak about the amount that I received in NDA. The ICT director and my immediate supervisor were very cold before I had agreed to sign. As soon as I agreed, the tone changed and they were friendly and nice again.   I consider myself lucky one compared to many others: ICT industry - there are plenty of workplaces that I can choose from, so signing the NDA was not a problem in a sense that I knew that I would be able to land to a next position. However, what is very hard about it, is the inability to speak when clearly I was wrongly treated. I think the perpetrators should be held accountable. The amount that I received is far too little for purchasing silence. We in the western societies hold high our values where expressing one's opinion is considered one of the highest. The culture of NDAs is seriously diminishing this right.

Story 98

I worked in manufacturing in an executive position when I was made aware of instances where invoices were inflated to submit to various government agencies to receive grants and loans. A subordinate came to me and told me that "the boss" was asking her to inflate insurance claims to recoup more money from some storm damage to the factory. He found out that we were talking about it and then accused us of "stealing" from the company, upwards of $300K - which was a ridiculous sum if you knew the industry and just happened to be the same number as the extra he was trying to claim from the insurance company. I wasn't supposed to know about the accusation but a colleague informed me and advised me to get a lawyer. I took my evidence to a lawyer and sued for damages and won. We both signed NDA's to limit what we could say about the incident but he still manages to smear my reputation when he's asked about why I'm no longer with the company by saying "I'm under investigation" and he will let everyone know once the investigation is concluded. There is no investigation. Unfortunately, he's a high profile, charismatic businessman who is put forward by all levels of government as a shining example of the opportunities that our country provides and people pay a lot of money to hear him tell his story. I can't even let the insurance company or grant agencies know of the fraud. I have to move on like nothing happened and he gets to pretend I never existed.

Story 99

I am currently the subject of an NDA and an injunction in connection with that NDA. I worked for a well known football club as a contractor, and discovered that my co-director was aggressively involved in a multi million tax fraud. I initially reported this to a Solicitor by way of a public interest disclosure but he didn't do anything other than to negotiate the sale of my shares after I was hounded out of the company.  Concerned about the implications for myself as a result of the tax fraud, as a co-director, I decided to report matters to the Police and eventually HMRC got involved. I was sexually assaulted in an attempt to silence me whilst I was still employed, but incredibly, a court of appeal has ruled that as I was the only person who knew about the tax fraud, my co-director was entitled to confidentiality, and that I was in breach of the NDA. This seems incredible NDA abuse still exists and I must be one of the few men who is a victim of it.  

Story 100

I exposed an illegal practice of Human Resources using our MIDAS system to show all managers, directors, executive directors, ADMS and DMs the (names of) people who had been on LTD.   I sent an email to the SK PSC HR individuals and I demanded that this be removed from my file and that was the reason no Executive Director or other managers were hiring me.  I did a survey through two ministries and asked managers if they would "hire this person".   I covered up my name and they all stated "No.  It looks like they're on LTD for years."  Hmm, I was on for a couple of years but my ENTIRE work history claimed/stated that from day 1, I was on LTD.    So, me having way too much confidence and no fear of people or situations, made my demands, the HR individuals were extremely embarrassed and did not know how to deal with me as a very educated woman.  I stated that I would make their lives miserable if and take all this evidence to the press/media if they didn't remove it in a very timely manner. I complained to the PSC, the Provincial Human Rights Commission, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Education and almost the media. There was 0 time to process the negotiation of the NDA. That effect was immediate as it was suggested that I ought to get a TFSA to be able to get my insignificant $20,000.    I was given a day to decide.  I wasn't asked, I was told to sign the NDA and settlement and release and I would get back my back pay, my human rights case would be withdrawn so the public couldn't read the outcome and the government would not look like they committed illegal acts since 2006 when MIDAS was implemented.  The impact this had on me was captured in the recording of the Assistant Deputy Minister of Education.  Horrific words were spoken to me with my union rep present at the last of 5 recorded meetings I had with (m)any HR and ADM and other Justice Ministry officials present.   I then came back to my home province to go to law school.  As we moved back to my home province, our moving truck hit the ditch and the highway cleaners, a hutterite colony, the RCMP scrambled to remove all of our destroyed house items, which included my usb keys with all damaging evidence against the GOS.  A few months later, someone sent my keys to the new house (the information of our new home was on one of the keys).  So, this impact was heavy because the individual/s who had read this information has every right to bring this damaging evidence to the courts and media on behalf of all employees in the Provincial Government.

Story 101

I was terminated from my dream job this year after reporting my VP's sexual advances to my director. I hired a lawyer and made it very clear early on that I would not sign an NDA. 1 month after filing a harassment claim with the EEOC, my former employer reached out to my lawyer to negotiate a settlement. I reminded my lawyer that I did not want to sign and NDA. My lawyer insisted that it was the only way. She used scare tactics to encourage me to sign... warning that it would be hard to defend me in court and that I don't have much physical evidence and that it could go on for years and be really ugly for me. I knew I didn't have the means to fight a corporation and ultimately decided it was time to move on and put the whole thing behind me.  I accepted the settlement and NDA. The specifics of the NDA are quite vague. I asked for clarification and was told to just say "I can't talk about this". So here I am job searching... my former employer can verify employment for me and that I'm not re-hirable but I'm not allowed to defend myself in any way.  When asked why I left my job... what am I supposed to say?????  I can't say that I was terminated. I can't say that we settled out of court. I can't say that I was pushed to sign an NDA but didn't want to. I can only say that I cannot disclose that information or LIE. If I lie, it will likely come out and some point in the hiring process. My career is ruined.  

Story 102

I was asked to sign an NDA by a prvovince as one of the Directors of the company that had been awarded the contract to build a ship. There was no negotiating : we were simply told we MUST sign, take it or leave it. When we asked if signing an NDA was "normal" we were told we were the first such case. We were given no time to consider or research the matter. It was the first step in a process that poisoned the project. What could have been a tremendous project for the community became an "Us" vs. "Them" battle, wasting huge amounts of money and squandering a great opportunity - which is why we were forced to sign : to avoid us spilling the beans on horrid government mis-management !  A dream project that turned into a nightmare. I listened to your CBC interview : WELL SAID ! You spoke very well and made extremely convincing arguments. I totally support your mission : NDA's are reprehensible in any context. 

Story 103

I was asked to sign an NDA by a University as part of a settlement agreement in a case concerning bullying and discrimination. Signing the NDA made me feel that I had done something wrong and was under suspicion, despite being the victim. I could no longer trust my employer and took a job elsewhere. The NDA prevented me from sharing my experiences and resulted in me needing counselling. If I hadn't had a supportive family I feel the consequences would have been devastating and it worries me to think how such behaviour might affect others less fortunate than I am.I was asked to sign an NDA by a University as part of a settlement agreement in a case concerning bullying and discrimination. Signing the NDA made me feel that I had done something wrong and was under suspicion, despite being the victim. I could no longer trust my employer and took a job elsewhere. The NDA prevented me from sharing my experiences and resulted in me needing counselling. If I hadn't had a supportive family I feel the consequences would have been devastating and it worries me to think how such behaviour might affect others less fortunate than I am.

Story 104

I was asked to commit fraud on behalf of my boss and whistleblew.  I was very senior and at the start of my exciting career journey, when he asked me to do this, I was shocked.  He tried to block me and look stupid in front of the whole business and diminish my credibility.  He told me if I didn't do what he asked, he would lose everything as would the ceo in his personal and professional life, he swore at me on calls and was generally awful.  I whistleblew and it was the worst experience ever, the company were horrendous to me, I got a solicitor and in the end I signed an NDA and got a settlement , as they turned everyone against me. I was borderline PTSD and suffered with a Severe Adjustment Syndrome that I had to have psychotherapy for.  I was going to take it to a tribunal but I was so sick and they were trying to force me back into the office after I had been allowed to work from home by the Doctor and Occupational Health. My hair was falling out, I had heart palpitations, I couldn't sleep, it was hell and although I had the money for a tribunal I physically didn't know if I would cope.  I ended up leaving and am now having trouble getting a senior role after working so hard for my career as I can't disclose what I actually went through