Senate Adopts DiZoglio-Backed NDA Ban

State Sen. Diana DiZoglio. (State House News Service.)

State Sen. Diana DiZoglio. (Courtesy photograph from State House News Service)

The House and Senate will charge into the new session with two different policies covering the use of non-disclosure agreements in cases of sexual harassment, with the Senate voting unanimously Thursday to ban their use altogether.

The vote in the Senate took place a day after the House engaged in a spirited debate on the merits of a similar policy for that chamber and voted overwhelmingly to keep its current policy and reject a blanket ban on non-disclosure agreements.

“We are not, nor will we be in the future, in the business of silencing victims or covering up misdeeds under any circumstances using public funds,” newly-elected Sen. Diana DiZoglio, of Methuen, said in a speech on the Senate floor.

DiZoglio offered the amendment to the Senate rules, arguing the agreements are a tool used by the powerful to keep victims of harassment and sexual assault quiet.

The rule change would prevent the use of such agreements in all circumstances between the Senate and a member, officer or employee. It was adopted without debate, though Senate President Karen Spilka has said in the past that it has not been the practice of the Senate to use NDAs, and she did not intend to change that policy.

DiZoglio, who signed a non-disclosure agreement as a House aide over what turned out to be discredited rumors, tried to implement a similar policy in the House last year when she was a member of that branch. The House, instead, voted to limit their use to cases when the NDA is requested by the victim of sexual harassment.

A handful of House Democrats and Republicans made a successful case to reject the ban, contending that it would actually take power away from victims.

Notwithstanding the potential for bad advice or pressure to be brought on victims to request an NDA, DiZoglio said that nothing under the new Senate rule would prohibit a victim of harassment from seeking such an agreement from their abuser privately, without the involvement of the Senate as an institution.

DiZoglio said she has filed separate legislation this session modeled, in part, on the law in California that she hopes will spark a broader debate about the use of non-disclosure agreements in both government and the private sectors, including victim-driven NDAs.