The Presidents club and the use of non-disclosure agreements
The details of the Presidents Club annual Gala, held at the Dorchester Hotel, have been widely reported; hitting headlines not because of its charitable efforts but because of allegations of sexual harassment.
It has also emerged that some (if not all) of the ‘hostesses’ employed to work at the event were provided with lengthy non-disclosure agreements (“NDA”) to sign. It is alleged that they were not provided with adequate time to read the document before being required to confirm their agreement to its content and that they were not provided with copies for their own records.
Whilst NDAs are common practice in business they are less common in scenarios like this (although admittedly they do appear to be gaining popularity). The purpose of an NDA is to allow the parties to share confidential information whilst simultaneously preventing the signatories from disclosing that information to other third parties and/or using that information for any purpose not proscribed by the terms of the agreement.
In this case it is unclear what information was subject to restriction and therefore it is impossible to determine whether or not that information is truly confidential. It is hard to imagine what information the hostesses might have been exposed to which would not be publicly available – which begs the questions, were the NDAs necessary?
Although some believe that the NDAs were used as a mechanism to try to escape liability for the event (by attempting to prevent the disclosure of the relevant information), the reality of the situation is that an agreement produced to prevent disclosure of non-commercially sensitive information is unlikely to be enforceable, particularly, if either the information has already entered the public domain and/or it seeks to prevent the individual from bringing a valid claim. Admittedly though this is not something which is immediately apparent and as such, even if unenforceable, the existence of an NDA is likely to act as a powerful deterrent.