A Pox on the Patriarchy
When I first heard about the Philip Green story, I was definitely part of the “ban NDAs (non-disclosure agreements)” crowd. It’s a tawdry story, one that is becoming tiresomely familiar in the #MeToo era. What we know so far is that the billionaire owner of Arcadia, the group that sells clothes to teenage girls via its brands including Topshop and Miss Selfridge, spent half a million pounds trying to prevent the Telegraph publishing a story about the various silence-buying payouts he has made to former employees who had accused him of sexual harassment and racial abuse.
We don’t yet have full details of exactly what this behaviour constituted, because although Lord Hain used parliamentary privilege to name Green, the interim injunction still holds. Sir Philip has, however, strenuously denied any “unlawful sexual or racist” behaviour.
The Telegraph story re-ignited cross-party calls for NDAs to be scrapped in cases of sexual harassment. “It cannot be right that the rich can buy silence,” said Labour MP Jess Phillips.
Conservative MP Maria Miller has called for NDAs to be outlawed from employment severance agreements altogether. A petition entitled “Change the rules to stop powerful people paying to silence victims“ had, at the time of writing, more than 126,000 signatures.
And I agree. The current system, where men get to repeatedly abuse, cover up, and abuse all over again, is untenable. But while it’s clear that something does have to change, I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that outright banning NDAs may not be the way to do it.
Continue reading this article at The New European.