Peter Steinmeyer Quoted in “End of the Nondisclosure Agreement? Not So Fast”

The Wall Street Journal

Peter A. Steinmeyer, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Chicago office, was quoted in The Wall Street Journal, in “End of the Nondisclosure Agreement? Not So Fast,” by Nicole Hong.

Following is an excerpt:

Nondisclosure agreements have become ubiquitous in corporate America, used to bar employees from sharing trade secrets, disparaging their former employers and speaking publicly about confidential settlements.

In recent months, revelations that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and other high-profile individuals reportedly used such agreements for years to silence their accusers have sparked debate about the merits of requiring secrecy as a condition to pay off sexual-misconduct claimants. Critics say the agreements can end up protecting serial predators and putting psychological stress on victims to keep silent about their experiences.

This month, after filing for bankruptcy protection, Weinstein Co. said it would end any nondisclosure agreement that has “prevented individuals who suffered or witnessed any form of sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein from telling their stories.”

Despite the backlash, many lawyers say the use of nondisclosure agreements to settle sexual-misconduct claims is likely to continue. Without promises of confidentiality, they say, companies will be less willing to resolve disputes or pay large settlement amounts. Part of the rationale put forward by companies: keeping settlements secret is necessary to stop other disgruntled employees from seeking similar payouts.

“Without NDAs, there just won’t be the same quantity of settlements, and that’s a bad thing for both the alleged victims and the alleged perpetrators,” said Peter Steinmeyer, an employment lawyer at Epstein Becker & Green P.C. in Chicago.