A federal judge for the District Court of the Southern District of New York ruled on Tuesday that non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements signed by employees of former President Donald Trump’s campaign cannot be enforced.
In November 2017, Jessica Densen attempted to file a lawsuit against the campaign for sex discrimination, harassment, and slander. The campaign attempted to compel Densen into arbitration because she allegedly breached the non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements she signed while employed by the campaign. The Trump campaign continued with the arbitration, but their award was later vacated by a New York state appellate court.
Densen then filed a complaint on behalf of herself and others similarly situated to have the agreements declared unenforceable. The campaign filed a motion to dismiss. The court chose to grant Densen’s motion for summary judgment and denied the campaign’s motion to dismiss.
Judge Paul C. Gardephe stated that non-disclosure agreements must be “reasonable in time and area, necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate interests, not harmful to the general public and not unreasonably burdensome to the employee.” The Trump campaign’s agreement has no end date, and is therefore not “reasonable in time.” The court also found that the information protected by the agreement was “broad enough to cover any information that relates to the campaign whatsoever.” Such a broad scope is not required to protect the Trump campaigns’ legitimate interests and poses an undue burden on Densen and other employees.
The court also ruled the non-disparagement agreement is not “sufficiently definite” to be enforceable because the parties cannot be “truly in agreement” regarding the agreement’s scope.