That depends. If you're talking about a non-compete or confidentiality agreement related to proprietary information such as customer information, trade secrets, or business plans, then yes, you can be required to sign one. However, we always advise employees to have the agreement reviewed by their own lawyer.
On the other hand, if you have accused your employer of violating your rights and have agreed to a settlement to compensate you for your losses, then you cannot be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) about the terms of the settlement.
New Law Protects Employees
Effective as of March 18, 2019, an amendment to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) makes it illegal for employers to include provisions in employment contracts that bar employees from seeking damages for claims of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. In other words, you cannot be asked to waive your right to sue your employer for a LAD violation in your employment contract.
In addition, the amendment prohibits non-disclosure clauses in settlements related to these types of claims. For example, if you file a lawsuit against your employer because they failed to protect you from sexual harassment in the workplace and the company agrees to a financial settlement, they can no longer include a clause in the agreement that prohibits you from sharing the details of the settlement.
This amendment expands employee rights and gives employers fewer places to hide behind questionable behavior. It will be much harder for New Jersey companies to pay workers off and sweep violations under the rug.
When to Contact a New Jersey Employment Lawyer
This amendment renders contracts and agreements that violate the law unenforceable. This means that if you are asked to sign a contract that waives your rights or a settlement agreement with an NDA, your employer will not be able to hold you to the terms. However, you might have to go to court to ensure that the law is upheld. Under the new law, your employer will have to pay your court costs and legal fees if it gets that far.
At Steinberg Law, LLC, we help workers hold their employers accountable for violating their rights and breaking the law. Contact us with any questions you have about non-disclosure agreements in New Jersey.