Is it Time to Get Rid of Non-Disclosure Agreements?
It seems as though almost every company asks employees to sign some type of agreement before hiring them. One common is a non-disclosure agreement. This document prevents employees from sharing a company’s private information or trade secrets with others. This may include sensitive data or certain procedures the company uses to create a product.
A non-disclosure agreement can be the right choice for many companies.However, some non-disclosure agreements take things too far. They force employees to keep quiet when unethical or illegal situations happen in the workplace. In fact, famed Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein used these documents to keep his victims quiet so he could sexually assault when without repercussions. His situation has led lawmakers to ban such agreements as they relate to harassment, discrimination and sexual assault claims.
The government also uses non-disclosure agreements to keep people quiet. The Justice Department tried to stop former national security adviser John Bolton from publishing a book about the time he worked for the Trump Administration.
Because of these situations, non-disclosure agreements are getting a bad reputation. It’s so bad that legal departments of companies are thinking of doing away from them altogether.
Companies are finding that non-disclosure agreements don’t really do much to help. They are time-consuming to create and the end result is that they don’t really add much value. It’s not worth it. While these documents put employees on notice, they’re not going to do much to deter a person who has criminal intent. A person who steals trade secrets and other information typically isn’t going to stop what they’re doing just because they were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement. A non-disclosure agreement does not necessarily give a company more opportunities to stop an employee who is committing a crime, but it does allow them to sue and punish them.
The main issue is that non-disclosure agreements are typically not very thoughtful. These documents often cover a broad range—a range so wide, in fact, that these documents end up being counterproductive and essentially worthless. If a company were to sue based on the language of a non-disclosure agreement, they probably wouldn’t get very far in court.
Legal departments need to focus on these documents being more specific to the company’s needs, rather than relying on a boilerplate template. Another option is to consider a publicity clause. These documents are more narrow than a non-disclosure agreement and work well for situations such as sales conversations and requests for proposals.
Learn More About Non-Disclosure Agreements
When used properly, a non-disclosure agreement can be mutually beneficial. However, this is not the norm. Many companies use these documents to take advantage of employees and even commit crimes.
If you do choose to implement a non-disclosure agreement, make sure that it is legal and meets your needs. Get help from Orlando non-disclosure & confidentiality agreement lawyer B.F. Godfrey from Godfrey Legal. He can help you create a document that addresses your concerns. Schedule a consultation by calling (407) 890-0023 or filling out the online form.