NBC Challenges Farrow By Voiding Nondisclosure Agreements

NBC Challenges Farrow By Voiding Nondisclosure Agreements; Accusers Now Free to Back Up His Lauer’s sexual misconduct Allegations, Or Not

Lauer's sexual misconduct Lauer's sexual misconduct Lauer's sexual misconduct

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WASHINGTON, D.C.  (October 26, 2019) –  NBCUniversal, in what appears to be a direct challenge to Roman Farrow’s claims that it covered up allegations of sexual misconduct by Matt Lauer by several women who were prevented from speaking out by nondisclosure agreements, has freed the women from any confidentiality restrictions – a move suggested publicly by public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

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NBC's statement said: ""Any former NBC News employee who believes that they cannot disclose their experience with sexual harassment as a result of a confidentiality or non-disparagement provision in their separation agreement should contact NBCUniversal and we will release them from that perceived obligation."

This followed a suggestion by Banzhaf that "instead of trying to simply deny them, NBC News president Noah Oppenheim could virtually destroy allegations of an extended coverup of sexual misconduct allegations long preceding Matt Lauer's firing, set forth in Roman Farrow's new book, by releasing the women from the confidentiality clauses he admits now legally bind them."

NBC

So the ball now appears to be in Farrow's court since he is presumably now free to bring forth the women who he says claim to have reported Lauer's sexual misconduct, only to have it allegedly covered up by NBC.

Oppenheim had termed Farrow's claims that NBC employees, who had reported Lauer's sexual misconduct to NBC long prior to his firing, were paid settlements to silence them "false," and a "lie."

More specifically he said that it's evident that "[Farrow's] smear rests on the allegation that NBC's management knew about and took steps to hide Matt Lauer's misconduct before his firing in November of 2017.  Without that, he has no basis on which to rest his second conspiracy theory - that his Harvey Weinstein reporting was squashed to protect Lauer."

Reportedly, "the NBC News exec goes on to list three people - a woman who is named in the book, an 'on-air personality' who departed in 2012 and a 'senior member of the 'Today' show team' who departed in 2017' . . .  who he said are 'the only three examples we can find that Farrow alleges are Lauer-related before 2017, with even minimal detail'."

He furthermore admits that all three signed a "completely standard separation agreement," which includes a "routine confidentiality clause that was designed to protect proprietary company information," but that was not used to "prevent an employee from reporting misconduct, nor has it ever been used that way."

Lauer's sexual misconduct

Since Oppenheim then claimed that "we have no secrets and nothing to hide," Banzhaf noted that NBC could "regain the public's trust and confidence, and virtually destroy Farrow allegations in the process," simply by releasing the women from the agreements.  More specifically he wrote:

"Since the confidentiality agreement is allegedly intended 'only to protect proprietary company information' and not to 'prevent an employee from reporting misconduct,' NBC could simply provide to each of the three staffers who have been identified - if not to all persons employed during that period still bound by confidentiality agreements - a clear and legally binding release authorizing them to discuss any information they may claim to have about sexual misconduct by Lauer at NBC, and any attempt by NBC employees to cover up such information - provided only that they do not disclose 'proprietary company property.'"

"If, once legally free to speak out, the individuals don't contradict Oppenheim's claim that 'there is no evidence of any reports of Lauer's sexual misconduct before his firing, no settlements, no 'hush money',' then the public will have every reason to believe NBC's denials, and to distrust claims in Farrow's book 'Catch and Kill.'"

Banzhaf argued that "a matter as important as this should not be decided as a 'he said, he said; whom do you believe' issue, especially when NBC, in accordance with its own statement, could easily free individuals with direct knowledge of the situation to speak without breaching confidentiality agreements which NBC claims were never intended nor used to 'prevent an employee from reporting misconduct.'"



About the Author

JOHN F. BANZHAF
JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D. Professor of Public Interest Law George Washington University Law School, FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor, Fellow, World Technology Network, Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) 2000 H Street, NW, Wash, DC 20052, USA (202) 994-7229 // (703) 527-8418 http://banzhaf.net/ jbanzhaf@law.gwu.edu