Should You Sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement?
Working at the White House would be a dream job for many people. Who would not want to have the president as a boss? Maybe you would think twice if you knew that you would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to work there.
Many companies require employees to sign non-disclosure agreements to protect proprietary information and processes. What makes the White House any different? Two words: Donald Trump.
Donald Trump has tightly controlled his public image for decades as he went from real estate mogul to reality TV star to president. He has done this through the power of a piece of paper called a non-disclosure agreement. If you want to work at the White House today, you will have to sign one, too, and be prepared to pay millions of dollars in penalties should you breach the agreement.
Trump did not demand such agreements at first. However, over time, he has begun ordering his staff to sign them. This has prevented staff members from disclosing information about what they see and hear at work.
Are Non-Disclosure Agreements Enforceable?
Non-disclosure agreements in the workplace raise ethical issues. Companies typically have these documents in place to prevent employees from disclosing trade secrets and proprietary information to other companies. However, they do not prohibit an employee from talking about every aspect of their job with others.
That is what Trump is trying to do, however. He is, in effect, limiting employees’ basic constitutional right of free speech. While White House employees are prohibited from discussing classified information to those without the proper clearance, this is not what Trump is intending to do with this non-disclosure agreement. He wants to use the agreement as a blanket to wipe out all forms of disclosure about White House activities. Experts agree that he would need a compelling government-related reason to do so, not simply a personal desire to avoid public scrutiny.
Trump’s actions are out of the norm, even for a president who has access to top secret information. Those who worked with Barack Obama when he was president say that while they were prohibited from sharing classified information with others, they were not ordered to sign any non-disclosure agreements.
Trump has two supporters on his side – his daughter, Ivanka, and a longtime lawyer. He also has many who oppose the non-disclosure agreement requirement, saying that it would be nearly impossible to enforce without limiting one’s right to free speech. Trump is nevertheless trying to enforce the agreement so he can prevent embarrassing leaks that could subject him to ridicule and ruin his reputation.
Learn More About Non-Disclosure Agreements
Non-disclosure agreements are becoming increasingly common in employment environments, but are they legal? If your employer has asked you to sign a non-disclosure agreement, reach out to an experienced employment law attorney in Fort Worth today to be sure your rights are protected. Whether you are working for the White House or any other company, our attorneys can assess your non-disclosure agreement and address any concerns. To learn more, contact our office today.