For immediate release
March 9, 2023
VICTORIA, B.C. – Today, Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley tabled legislation to make it illegal for employers and other organizations to misuse non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in cases of harassment or discrimination.
“Too many British Columbians are faced with gag orders that allow instances of harm to be swept under the rug. It’s time for this practice to end,” said Furstenau.
“NDAs were designed to prohibit the sharing of trade secrets, but they’ve become tools to silence victims of workplace discrimination and harassment – including sexual harassment, racism, ableism, or other forms. To see examples of this misuse, we only need to look at Hockey Canada’s NDA scandal, or watch the testimony from victims of workplace discrimination or harassment in Manitoba’s legislative committee.
“We know that victims of discrimination and harassment are more likely to be women, especially those facing sexual harassment. That being said, all genders report harassment at work, whether it’s from supervisors, clients, or colleagues. This is a pervasive issue across the province, and around the world, and it’s time that British Columbia steps up to make our workplaces a safer, more transparent place for everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable.
“I call on the BC NDP and Premier Eby to support this important work.”
The Non-Disclosure Agreements Act restricts the use and content of non-disclosure agreements relating to acts and allegations of discrimination and harassment. It follows the examples of PEI, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba who all worked with the Can’t Buy My Silence campaign.
Dr. Julie Macfarlane, C.M., Co-Founder of Can’t Buy My Silence, and Distinguished University Professor (Emerita), University of Windsor:
“We are delighted that Sonia Furstenau has brought forward this legislation. It will stop the harm that is presently being inflicted on many British Columbians who are told they ‘must’ accept a permanent gag on them speaking even to family or therapists, in exchange for compensation and settlement. This is exploitative and wrong. We know that the B.C. public will support this measure and we hope that the BC Government will recognize the importance of supporting this Bill.”
- The Canadian Bar Association recently passed a resolution to prevent the misuse of NDAs in harassment and discrimination cases.
- Several other provinces have put forward laws to prohibit the misuse of NDAs, including Manitoba, PEI, Nova Scotia, and Ontario, the latter of which prohibits universities from using NDAs in cases of faculty or student sexual misconduct.
- Similar legislation exists or is in development in dozens of U.S. states, as well as Australia and England.
B.C. Green Caucus
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