Kaarin Nelson Schaffer Discusses Non-Disclosure Agreements on WCCO

August 24, 2018 – This week, firm partner Kaarin Nelson Schaffer appeared on WCCO radio’s Steele Talkin’ with Jearlyn Steele to discuss non-disclosure agreements. In the interview, Nelson Schaffer discussed the role of these contracts as they pertain to private and public employees and entities. The discussion arose out of recent comments by former Trump staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman about the president in her newly published book about her time working for Trump. Trump has asserted that any disparaging comments violate the terms of a non-disclosure agreement signed by Manigault Newman during his 2016 election campaign.

A non-disclosure agreement (NDA)—also called a confidentiality agreement–is a legally binding contract between two or more parties who agree to not disclose information they want to remain private. In the private setting, this could include an agreement between a company and an employee to not disclose confidential information or trade secrets as part of an employment agreement. In the public setting, this could be an agreement by a government employee to not reveal highly classified information pertaining to national security. In both cases, a breach of the agreement may entitle the non-breaching party to damages or enforcement of the agreement.

As Nelson Schaffer noted, courts generally uphold nondisclosure agreements unless the agreement contributes to a crime, endangers public health or safety or hides matters of public concern. An issue in the Manigault Newman matter is whether any comments made about Trump are covered under the 2016 NDA. The First Amendment protects government employees who speak out on matters of public concern. This not only prevents the government from restricting the speech of public employees, it fosters transparency in government. While it’s possible some comments made about matters occurring prior to the election would be covered under the NDA, such comments may be protected under the Constitution once Trump became president, and she became a public servant. At this point, however, it’s unclear whether any comments made by Manigault Newman would fall under the 2016 agreement.

Kaarin Nelson Schaffer is a partner at Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP and a driven advocate for employee rights. Kaarin represents employees facing discrimination, harassment, retaliation and other forms of unlawful workplace conduct by employers and has litigated many cases through trial. She has been named to the list of Minnesota Rising Stars in employment litigation every year since 2014 and regularly presents at conferences on employment law.

Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta LLP is an employment law firm committed to protecting the rights of employees who have suffered workplace discrimination, harassment and retaliation, as well as employment contract issues. For questions about the firm or your employment rights, contact Kaarin or any of our attorneys by clicking here or calling us at 612-252-3570.