Originally published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on January 23, 2023.
By Gretchen Carlson and Julie Roginsky
It is all too common to know someone who has experienced discrimination, harassment or other toxicity at work — or to have experienced it ourselves.
As a survivor or a witness of workplace abuse, the natural instinct is to help yourself or others by calling out the bad behavior in the hope that exposing it could deter it from happening again. But today, millions of Americans are prevented from exposing workplace toxicity due to concealment clauses in their employment contracts that stop them from confiding in anyone about what they are experiencing.
More than one-third of American workers — including tens of thousands of Virginians — are subject to nondisclosure agreements (NDAs). While there is a place for confidentiality provisions in the workplace to protect proprietary trade secrets, there is never a good reason for organizations to cover up workplace abuse. Yet this epidemic of silence is pervasive and prevents workers from sharing traumatic events with co-workers, loved ones and sometimes even therapists or clergy members. Often, these NDAs are so strict that workers cannot even disclose the reason they are silent is because they are bound by an NDA.