Numerous Hollywood confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) are requiring employees give up their rights to sue, at least if working for certain celebrities, according to a newly-released report by the Los Angeles Times.
Greenhour Corp., actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s company, once had a controversial disclosure agreement that anyone who wanted to work for the business had to sign prior to employment. According to the agreement, it protected DiCaprio’s “personal safety, well being and business,” but it meant that potential employees had to give up the right to sue over harassment, emotional distress, and/or invasion of privacy, whether it was related to one of DiCaprio’s projects or not.
LA Times reports that the aforementioned disclosure is one of many that Hollywood employees are made to sign. NDAs are common in many industries, but in Hollywood, the agreements tend to extend further than common disclosure agreements, and include requirements that infringe upon people’s legal rights.
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For example, those working for DiCaprio’s company cannot sue if they are exposed to harassing behavior, because “as part of the creative process, conversations, jokes, banter and behavior may contain explicit references to sex, gender, race, sexual orientation, violence and other protected categories.”
New York employment lawyer Wayne Outten, however, said that despite what the contract says, people should still be legally allowed to sue.
“The scope of this is just wildly overbroad and I don’t believe it would be enforceable. It’s overreaching. I can’t imagine any court would enforce this.”
Others, such as a freelance technician who chose to remain unnamed, said that DiCaprio’s NDA was so “ominous” that he ended turning down a job with the company.
“I found it so offensive that I turned down the job and did not sign the agreement. I’m very much against NDAs. They’ve gotten increasingly oppressive.”
DiCaprio’s company warned that breaking the contract could result in a fine of $250,000, paid to the Titanic actor. Another NDA, carried about by production company that makes the reality show, Shark Tank, indicated that anyone who violated a similar contract could be subjected to a $5 million fine, in which they call it “the fair average compensation for any harm.”
United Talent Agency, a Beverly Hills talent company for celebrities, has a similar NDA as DiCaprio’s. The contract warned that workers could be exposed to “conduct and speech that openly and explicitly relates to sex.” Although the document doesn’t state that workers are prohibited from suing, the wording makes some people feel uneasy about pursuing legal options..
“Reading it, as a woman, I can see how it would be a disincentive for me to report any kind of sexual harassment,” a former employee of United Talent Agency told LA Times. “They could pull out this document and say, ‘You waived your right to complain about this type of behavior.’”
LA Times wants to hear from people who worked in Hollywood and signed a non-disclosure agreement. To tell your story, click here for more information.
[Feature Photo: AP/Chris Pizzello/Invision]