Province looking to consult on banning NDAs in cases of harassment

'NDAs should never be used to silence victims'

Province looking to consult on banning NDAs in cases of harassment

Non-disclosure agreements used in cases of workplace harassment in Ontario could soon see their final days.

The provincial government is considering banning the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in cases of workplace sexual harassment, misconduct or violence. It will announce a public consultation on the matter today, according to a report from The Canadian Press.

“NDAs should never be used to silence victims, and those who've done that, their time's up,” said Labour Minister David Piccini.

“We want to hear from Ontarians and (our) consultations will work with the legal community, survivors, employers to identify those options to restrict the use of NDAs while protecting the rights of victims,” Piccini said, according to the report.

In a previous case, a former employee was tasked to pay $800,000 for breach of confidentiality and fiduciary duty.

Prince Edward Island was the first jurisdiction in Canada to limit the use of NDAs in cases of discrimination and harassment.

Ontario has previously banned the use of NDAs in sexual misconduct cases among post-secondary employees who are looking for work at a different institution.

Previously, in looking to end the misuse of NDAs in the workplace, the Canadian Bar Association vowed to advocate and lobby for legislation and policies around the agreements at the federal, provincial and territorial levels.

"It's up to the legal profession to understand the impact of these agreements, so the negative effects are minimized," said Jo-Anne Stark, Vancouver lawyer, in a CBC report.

Seven in 10 Ontario workers have reported experiencing a form of harassment or violence in their workplace, according to the report, citing the provincial government. And the rates are even higher for women and gender-diverse people.

Overall, 71.4 per cent of Canadians say they have experienced at least one form of harassment and violence or sexual harassment and violence, according to a previous survey from the Canadian Labour Congress and the Western University Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children.

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