11:06, October 27 279 0 theguardian.com

2018-10-27 11:06:06
Weinstein ex-assistant: ban workplace non-disclosure agreements

Harvey Weinstein’s former assistant Zelda Perkins has called on the government to urgently ban the use of non-disclosure agreements in the workplace following the Sir Philip Green allegations.

Perkins, the most high-profile example of an individual breaking an NDA drawn up between lawyers and powerful clients over allegations of sexual harassment, said the debate surrounding Green highlighted the need for the use of the agreements to be made illegal.

Perkins claimed she was prevented from speaking out after alleging sexual assault against the film producer and thought her only option was to sign an NDA, which stopped her from speaking out.

Perkins, who worked for Weinstein’s Miramax Films in London during the 1990s, claims Weinstein “sexually assaulted and attempted to rape a colleague of mine”.

On Thursday Green was named in parliament as the leading businessman accused by the Telegraph of sexual and racial harassment. Peter Hain, who identified him in the Lords, said he was using parliamentary privilege to circumvent NDAs used “to conceal the truth about serious and repeated sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying”.

Perkins has now called for NDAs to be made illegal when used for covering any type of crime committed in the workplace.

She said: “In an employment environment there isn’t any reason, or any time, when they are acceptable. I know people shout out that it protects the victim as well but it only protects the victim because of the current climate. There shouldn’t be any shame or fear about calling out bad behaviour – but at the moment the environment is skewed to help the perpetrator.”

The government is reportedly considering prohibiting NDA’s about sexual harassment in the workplace, but Perkins urged for the ban to be much wider.

“It shouldn’t just be that NDA’s are banned around sexual harassment, it’s about discrimination, it’s about race, environmental accidents, it’s about people in power.

“This about a whole cultural, social attitude change. If you’re in a position of power, part of the deal that you make when you have a lot of power is that actually you should be acting more responsibly than anybody else. Historically it’s always been like this, once people become powerful they think they are above everything.

Green has “categorically and wholly” denied allegations of “unlawful sexual or racist behaviour”. Lawyers for Weinstein have stated the film producer “categorically denies engaging in any non-consensual conduct or alleged threatening behaviour”.