Nova Scotia Federation of Labour convention delegates vote unanimously to end abuse of Non-Disclosure Agreements

November 30, 2023

Halifax, N.S. In a unanimous vote, the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour has vowed to help end the abuse of non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs, in cases of harassment, discrimination and other abuses. The historic vote was held at the Federation’s annual convention in Halifax in early November.

Danny Cavanagh, President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, is urging all Nova Scotians to engage with our Premier and Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) regarding the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

“We firmly believe that the Premier and his party share our commitment to upholding victims’ rights to speak out and seek justice. However, recent messages from the Minister have left many questioning his motives, as he has yet to provide any clarifications or responses.

“Using NDAs prevents victims of harassment or discrimination from sharing their experiences, effectively silencing their voices. This impedes efforts to address systemic issues and hold perpetrators accountable”, says Cavanagh.

NDAs perpetuate a culture of secrecy, shielding individuals or organizations from the consequences of their actions. By discouraging victims from sharing their encounters with others who may have faced similar situations, collective action and support networks are hindered, impeding progress in addressing systemic issues and affecting meaningful change.

The Federation of Labour’s decision is being applauded by victims’ advocates, including Can’t Buy My Silence — an international group dedicated to banning the misuse of NDAs and supporting survivors.

“There are no downsides to allowing open discussions and exposing those who harm victims. Unfortunately, individuals often feel compelled to sign NDAs as their only means to seek justice and secure compensation for the harm they’ve endured,” says Cavanagh.

Text of Resolution below:

Resolution # 12 submitted by NSGEU 

Subject: Non-Disclosure Agreements

The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour will lobby government to ban the use of Non- Disclosure Agreements (NDA) in cases of workplace sexual harassment.

1)    Because historically, when workplace sexual harassment occurs in a workplace, the employer will insist that parties sign A Non-Disclosure Agreement before it will settle any grievance.

2)    Because victims of workplace sexual harassment can suffer serious monetary losses due to loss of worktime for many reasons such as fear of re-occurrence, intimidation, and feeling of being forced to leave their jobs.

3)    Because Non-Disclosure Agreements do not obligate the Employer to make any changes to what could be a toxic, abusive workplace.

4)    Because the abuse of NDA’s are also used to protect the reputation of the employer.

5)    Because the Nova Scotia Minister of Justice has recently announced that the Nova Scotia government will not be taking any action to limit the use of NDAs.

Resolution # 19 submitted by Nova Scotia Nurses Union 

Subject: Stopping the Misuse of Non-Disclosure Agreements in Discrimination and Harassment Cases

The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour will advocate for government to pass legislation limiting the usage of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to prevent NDAs from being used to silence victims and whistleblowers.

1.     Because NDAs have been used as a means of protecting an Employer’s reputation at the expense of victims of abuse, harassment, and discrimination.

2.     Because NDAs are regularly used to cover up the abuse of victims in vulnerable sectors such as schools, universities, and churches by protecting the reputations of institutions and abusers.

3.     Because victims are often in financially vulnerable situations and may feel coerced into signing an NDA that results in the denial of justice and the ability to discuss their abuse with those in a position to help them.

4.     Because NDAs prevent victims from speaking out about their abuse, exacerbating their trauma. 

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